[TUHS] PWB vs Unix/TS

Larry McVoy lm at mcvoy.com
Thu Sep 12 04:11:01 AEST 2019

On Wed, Sep 11, 2019 at 11:36:32AM -0400, Clem Cole wrote:
> > but I've never actually used SCCS.
> >
> That's a shame - I still use it for simple things.  Lots less overhead than
> things like git.   Somebody rewrote it in C++ and you can google it.
> Larry's been trying to get me to switch to bitkeeper and I probably should,
> but I admit SCCS has been good enough for a long time and the commands are
> screwed in the roms in my fingers.

SCCS is awesome, I'll post why in a different thread.  It is light years
better than RCS, Tichy lied.

> As I say, Sun was interesting.   They started as a firm after Masscomp, but
> shipped their first systems (Stanford Sun Terminal boards running UNIX)
> using Asa Romberger's V7 license (Unisoft).  When they got their own UNIX
> license, it would have been a System III license like Masscomp the other
> folks at that point.   From a technical stand point, they of course had
> BSD; but I think they also had some of the MIT/NU stuff (like Jack Test's C
> compiler and Tom Teixeria's 68k assembler).  So SunOS was based on BSD
> while they shipped off an AT&T System III license (which was an anathema to
> AT&T marketing, although it was allowed in that license).    Larry can tell
> us how much pressure they felt with the V7/BSD command systems in the
> market; but certainly since they originally sold to the Vax replacement
> market - it did not seem like it mattered (until later).

So I'm not sure that I can add that much.  I never used SunOS 1.x, the
first version I used was SunOS 2.x and that was brief.  SunOS 3.x was
much better, it was the one where people started calling SunOS "a bug
fixed BSD" I believe.

I always talk up the glory days of Sun but one thing they got wrong, in
my opinion, was this incessant desire to not ship X11 as the windowing
system.  In those days you ran sunview, which was a decent enough window
system but it wasn't X11.  Like pretty much everyone else, I got the
X10 and later X11 sources and did a "make world".  Because I wasn't just
running on Suns, there were the IBM RTs, there were microvaxes, there were
Masscomps, etc.  You wanted to be able to have the same startup files on
all of the machines and that meant X windows.

Building X was a lesson in reality.  The graphics drivers were never as
good as the ones that Sun shipped, the code didn't always build so you
got a lesson in #ifdef DOESNT_WORK_SUNOS_35, you learned that you should
just try stuff and see if the code that didn't compile was even used,
mostly it wasn't.

I didn't get to Sun until 4.0 had come out, that was the release that
had the new VM system, vnodes, vfs layer, etc.  Vnodes might have been
in the 3.x tree, not sure.

> The quick story on Sun is that as Larry has pointed out there was a deal at
> the CEO level that brought SunOS and SVR4 together to create what would
> eventually would become Solaris 2.0 (I'll let Larry can fill in those
> details, as it was not truly SVR4 nor SunOS when it was done).  

Yeah, that happened about 5 years after I got there.  The terms of the
deal were very hush hush, my boss was the VP in charge of all server
hardware and he paid me for 6 months to go argue with Scooter, Raduchel,
basically everyone in the top floor of PAL-1, all the execs.  So even
he didn't know.

The problem was that Sun was in financial hot water and AT&T wanted SVR4
to be the industry standard.  At the time, there was no question that
SunOS 4.x was the industry standard.  Pretty much anything you found
on comp.sources or elsewhere, just compiled on SunOS.  AT&T didn't
like that, thought they were going to get rich from SVR4, so they cut
a deal with Sun.  They bought $200M of Sun stock at 35% above market
and in return Sun agreed to dump SunOS and go with SVR4.  Which was,
in my opinion, the beginning of the end for Sun.  It's close to 30
years later and I'm still butthurt over that.  It would have been
much better if Sun had licensed their source base to AT&T and then
AT&T could have leveraged the industry standard.  Shoulda, coulda,

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