[TUHS] Directory services in early Unix networks?

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Thu Nov 8 01:02:54 AEST 2018

On Mon, Nov 5, 2018 at 7:35 PM Dan Cross <crossd at gmail.com> wrote:

> Spurred by the recent discussion of NIS, NIS+, LDAP et al, I'm curious
> what the landscape was like for distributing administrative information in
> early Unix networks.
> Specifically I'm thinking about things like the Newcastle Connection, etc.
> I imagine that PDP-11's connected to the ARPAnet running Unix would (e.g.,
> RFC 681 style) would have adapted the HOSTS.TXT format somehow. What about
> CHAOS? Newcastle? Datakit?
> What was the introduction of DNS into the mix like? I can imagine that
> that changed all sorts of assumptions about failure modes and the like.
> NIS and playing around with Hesiod are probably the earliest such things I
> ever saw, but I know there must have been prior art.
> Supposedly field 5 from /etc/passwd is the GECOS username for remote job
> entry (or printing)? How did that work?

Dan - all good questions, but I think you are mixing a few things (which is
easy to do as they all had different evolutionary paths).

   - ARPAnet was Rand, UCLA and UofI in the early to mid 70s.
   - UCLA line would fork competely with the original Locus work of the mid
   70's, which would reappear later in the 80's post BSD
   - IP Networking was done by BBN for 4.1BSD in the late 70s - originally
   as an OS independant stack (hence it has its own memory manager to
   insulated it from the local S).  Besides UNIX I think it went into HP's MPE
   and maybe a couple f other systems.
   - The BBN IP stack was then repliced into UNIX by UCB/CRSG as 4.1A with
   Joy's sockets layer in 82/83
   - HOST.TXT was finaly abandoned and BIND was then done (primarily at UCB
   by peed on by many) - I want to say eary 80's  the SCCS files might give
   you some hints.
   - Hesiod was MIT/Athenia and NIS by Sun were  later developed somewhat
   in the same time frame   (mid to late 80s)
   - CHAOS was completely seperate, although influenced the BBN code and
   was the early/mid 70s.
   - BTL's DataKit of course, had the UoI (Chesson) influence was late 70s.
   - Best I can tell Newcastle was complete seperate from all of this (also
   late 70s).

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