The network code in ULTRIX-11 v3.1 dies on me a lot and the scripts to set
it up assume classed subnets still. Would anyone want to work with me to
revamp it? I kind of need a mentor in such things but "used to be" a
decent c programmer. Large ask, I know.
I think the first thing would be to troubleshoot it enough to understand
what's breaking (which I dont know know enough ULTRIX to do myself, but
would probably pick it up quick with the company of an expert), then to
replace the ailing pieces of code. Should be a reasonable scope for
someone here, I bet. Over my head. But I'm happy to do all the
housekeeping / gruntwork / announcing, documenting, etc. and I'm eager to
learn your techniques!
P.S. If this belongs not on this list but somewhere like cctalk, please
say so and I'll take it there instead.
I'm finally back to my scan pile and have a few to share:
First is the UNIX System Document Processing Guide. This is the version of the TROFF et. al. documentation distributed for Release 5.0 as well as the initial release of System V. This contains the expected papers on NROFF/TROFF, MM, Eqn, Tbl, and other bits and pieces like viewgraph macros. These documents appear to be revisions of the various technical memoranda distributed as UNIX papers over time. I think this just leaves the Support Tools Guide as far as unscanned initial System V documents. I have this so just need to get it on my scanner and then the initial System V documentation run should be completely preserved out there on the net.
Second is a copy of WE Magazine from November-December 1981. Distributed to Western Electric employees, this issue of the magazine has a cover story on the installation of the very first central office 5ESS in Seneca, Illinois on July 1st, 1981. The piece goes into some local reactions to installation day, some technical details of 5ESS, and has some nice pictures of the unit being unloaded and moved into place. There are additional articles concerning Nassau Metals, ISSMs, and some goings on around the company.
Finally is the "Attached Processor Interface", a small Western Electric pamphlet detailing an interface for incorporating 3B processors into existing 1A offices such as 4ESS and 1AESS. As with other applications of the 3B to telephony, DMERT features as the operating system, although the pamphlet is mostly concerned with the installation and diagnostic aspects of working with the interface. By the way, the original text is all green, but I scanned all but the covers in B/W.
The last one is interesting in that it's an integration of the 3B into a telephone central office that isn't a 5ESS, rather, you wind up with something more like a 4.5ESS, a 4ESS with a 3B up in it somewhere. However, given the date of November 1981, this postdates the installation of that first 5ESS, making it less likely that this was some embryonic step before the 5ESS and more likely a retrofit designed to get more 3Bs into service in older offices. That this was 1A general was interesting too, that is why a 1AESS could absorb it, meaning there very well could've been frankenstein central offices out there with a 1ESS that got retrofitted with a 1A and then got retrofitted further with an API and a 3B, making one of the monstrosities this pamphlet suggests installing. It's too bad there's a snowball's chance in hell of one of these "API" units popping up out there, much less still mated to its 1A and 3B...but a guy can dream.
Anywho, going to start a slow trickle of scans again now that I've got my office all settled. I'm foraying further and further into telephones so my document hunting these days lands closer to ESS and 1A2 KTS than UNIX, but I'm still keeping an eye out for whatever I can manage to preserve. That all said, that also means my "accepted for scan" circle has gotten larger, as I'm now seeking other 70s-early 80s Bell System stuff generally, not strictly UNIX things, so if you've got some obscure Dimension PBX manual collecting dust I'll happily scan it for ya!
- Matt G.
If anyone is interested (*BSD committers, I'm looking at you :-), there have recently
been some updates in the One True Awk (BWK's) which you should pick up. In particular,
regular expression matching performance against Unicode text should now be tolerable.
Feel free to ping me off list if you need more info; let's not spam the list.
It is Friday in Australia now
Yes, I know that. I was at Caltech, it was one of the
first things they taught us.
I just don't understand why, if Australia had a Thanksgiving
Day, they would choose to have it on the same day as the US.
Does any other country?
On the other hand, if Thanksgiving Day actually mattered to
anyone important, the original ctime(3) would have had a
special table to compute its date, including all the different
dates it had in the US before 1942.
Toronto ON, thankfully
> In the U.S., certainly. Do Auzzies celebrate thanksgiving?
Not really, but if we did, it would have been yesterday. But we do
get exposed to Black Friday (today).
Why yesterday? In Canada we had ours a month and a half ago!
Hello everyone, I've just recently secured an item that has drawn some questions to mind. The item is a "UNIX System III Programmer's Manual Volume 2A" (image from auction listing: https://i.imgur.com/6blnqz3.jpeg).
The cover is of a typical 70's Bell System motif, branded Western Electric, with blue and yellow lines and a Bell logo. The cover itself appears to be a typical report cover with a window for the title page of the document.
First, I've only seen System III stuff still labeled "Release 3.0." Indeed the manual I have says Release 3.0 on the title page. Also, said manual is Bell Laboratories branded and has the blue and yellow lines near the top, above the cover text but below the Bell Laboratories logotype, an arrangement that can be seen on plenty of Bell Laboratories stuff even into the AT&T period (with the lines being replaced with the blue, red, and black, and death star instead of bell.)
With this set, however, it is specifically labeled "System III". I've heard, anecdotally, that there were User's Manuals that specifically had the text "System III" on the title page, but I've never seen this myself. Are there System III branded manuals or am I misremembering. Additionally, this is labeled specifically Western Electric rather than Bell Labs. Western Electric would continue to be the name on the cover of UNIX documentation (for the most part) after this until divestiture. If such formal "System III" manuals exist, which branding did they happen to get?
Another curious matter is the document is titled "Programmer's Manual...Volume 2A". This nomenclature is more commonly associated with research than stuff descending more from the PWB line like the commercial lineage. For instance, even PWB 1.0 listed its two main documents as "User's Manual" and "Documents for Use With". Research has always called the document the "Programmer's Manual" as far as I know, and the "Documents for Use With" nomenclature was only used with V6, V7 introduced treating the two sets as "Volumes" of the same larger work. What's interesting is in the sources for System III on the archive, in /usr/src/man/docs, the road_map (Documentation Roadmap) specifically uses the text "User's Manual" and "Documents for UNIX", which is still the case by 4.x (albeit the a_man/u_man split seems to have happened right about this time). In any case, I would be curious if anyone knows what was going on with the naming of documentation at this time. Would this imply that there is some variation on the 3.0/SysIII manual out there named "Programmer's Manual" instead of "User's Manual", or perhaps that for some reason when the Sys III variants of these docs had started being published, they had for some reason tried to cut over to the V7 documentation structure only to back out back to "Documents for UNIX" and a "User's Manual" as distinct things by the time of 4.0?
In any case, once this gets here, I'll look it over for anything compelling that might set it apart from the document sources in the UNIX tree. I'm a bit bummed it's only Volume 2A, not both, but it'll be nice to have a physical example of the distributed, published documentation of the time. Maybe a 2B will pop up one of these days.
Thanks for any insights or recollections!
- Matt G.
P.S. Long shot, very long shot, but if anyone on this mailing list has any empty, unused Bell System report covers of the era, Bell Laboratories especially, I would happily buy them from you. I've got my V6 documents and some BSD stuff just in random report covers I fished out of the university recycling, they'd look much nicer in proper covers, but I also recognize the bulk of those covers probably also wound up in some recycling/waste stream decades ago and no longer exist. Once I get this I could use the cover to produce a reasonable facsimile but I feel a tad uneasy regarding "breaking the seal" on that prospect, I don't want to cross the line from improving the aesthetics of my bookshelf to counterfeiting something.
Ken mailed me the code for the compiler backdoor.
I have annotated it and posted it at https://research.swtch.com/nih.
As part of the post, I wrote a new simulator that can run V6 binaries.
The simulator is a halfway point between the designs of simh and apout.
It is running a translation of the V6 kernel to Go (with no hardware)
and running user binaries on a simulated PDP11 CPU. The result combines
apout's "easy to run" with simh's "v6-specific system calls work".
In particular, it is good enough to run the backdoored login command,
which apout simply cannot due to host OS tty handling not being like V6,
and without having to fuss with disk pack images like in simh.
If you have Go installed locally, you can run the new simulator with
go run rsc.io/unix/v6run@latest
You can also run it in your browser at https://research.swtch.com/v6.
Finally, it turns out that the backdoor code was published this summer
in the TUHS archive, but no one noticed. It is in dmr_tapes.tgz  in the file
dmr_tapes/ken-sky/tp/nih.a. It is also visible in the dmr_tapes/ken/bits
tape image, although not in the extracted files.
An interesting set of videos indeed, although I wish they were not all chopped up in 5 minute segments.
> I consistently hear from folks the same about Bill Gates pushing for volume over anything else with Xenix.
That was his business model. His Basic for the 8080 was copied a lot (the famous 1976 open letter to hobbyists) and he shifted to selling bulk licenses to manufacturers. These could then make a bundled hw/sw sale and sidestep the copying. If I understood correctly, in the early days he sold the bulk licenses for a fixed amount, without per copy fees. I suppose this matched his cost structure, so it worked; the leverage and profit came from selling the same to all manufacturers in the market. He also used it in his deal with IBM, beating out Digital Research that wanted per copy fees. Retaining the rights to DOS also matched the business model that had been pioneered for his Basic.
It would seem that the same thinking was at play in the deal for Xenix (which I think preceded the IBM deal). He would spend money once on porting Unix to each of the various next-gen microprocessors of the time (x86, Z8000, 68K, NS32K) and sell (sub-)licenses to hardware manufacturers, who in turn had a right to sub-license binaries to end-users. The deal that he had to negotiate with Bell had to match that business model.
Beyond this, I’m sure that Bill Gates understood the strong network effects in software and the "winner takes all” dynamic that results from it -- hence his focus on volume and market share. However, I don’t think this drove the structure of his 1979 [?] Unix license deal with Bell.
> Something this brings back to mind that I always wonder about with Microsoft and their OS choices: So they went with Windows NT for their kernel, scraped the Windows environment off the top of DOS and dolloped it on top. Has there been any explanation over the years why they also decided to keep the MSDOS CLI interface?
The below site has a very nice summary of Xenix at Microsoft (I’ve linked it a couple of times before):
About blending Xenix and DOS it says: "As late as the beginning of 1985, there was some debate inside of Microsoft whether Xenix should be the 16-bit “successor” to DOS; for a variety of reasons – mostly having to do with licensing, royalties, and ownership of the code, but also involving a certain amount of ego and politics – MS and IBM decided to pursue OS/2 instead. That marked the end of any further Xenix investment at Microsoft, and the group was left to slowly atrophy.”
Probably that same dynamic was in play for the CLI of Windows NT. Moreover, as you already point out, by the time of NT there were tens of millions of users of DOS, and numerous books, magazines, etc. explaining it. Throwing away that familiarity for unclear benefits (in the eyes of those users) would serve no business purpose. In a way it is the same dynamic that kept C89 and Bash in place for so long: people know it, it is good enough and it works everywhere.
Seeing the Cutler interviews reminded me of the old joke that there are only two operating systems left: Unix and VMS (Linux being Unix-family and Windows being VMS-family). I wonder if we will see it narrow down to just one before the hardware changes so much that the concept of an OS changes beyond recognition. My hypothesis would be that an entirely new approach will come first.
The scans of UNIX NEWS John Gilmore provided are appreciated
but the July 16 1975 "special issue" is very difficult to read:
Hendrik Jan Thomassen shows the copy sent to Nijmegen in:
From UNIX to Linux, a time lapse of 45 years
A transcription from the video:
* * * * ***** * * * * ***** * * ****
* * ** * * * * ** * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * *** * * * ***
* * * ** * * * * ** * ** ** *
*** * * ***** * * * * ***** * * ****
Circulation 49 July 16, 1975 Special Issue
The contents of this "special issue" will be repeated in the normal
July issue to be mailed the last week of July.
NEW SYSTEM AVAILABLE
The Sixth Edition - June 1975 of the UNIX system is now available
for distribution to licensees. Commercial users should contact Western
Electric for details. Academics can receive the new system for a service
fee of $150.00. Normal distribution is on 800 bpi - 9 track tape. You
need not send a tape. Just a check for $150.00 addressed to:
C. W. Christ, Jr.
Murray Hill, NJ 07974
The tape contains a single file which extracts to 3 RK-packs or equivalent.
pack0) The system except for /usr/source
pack2) Documentation in machine readable form
Those who require distribution on RK-packs should send two or three packs
along with their checks. The package also includes one hard-copy of each
of the 19 documents.
Among the new "goodies" are:
1) Separate I and D space for the resident monitor on
11/45s and 11/70s
2) Huge files (up to 16 megabytes)
3) A preprocessor for structured Fortran
5) A preprocessor for DC, with arbitrary precision
6) Many fixes and rewrites of system programs from "as"
7) Much improved comments embedded in system source
8) More graceful death on running out of resources and
At the users' meeting in New York on June 18 it was decided that the
UNIX NEWS will be irregular in format but regular in mailing. We will try to
be in the mails by the last day of each odd month. Where, as in this case,
a special issue is warranted we will mail it and include the contents also
in the regular mailing.
Address Correspondence to
Prof. M. Ferentz Physics Dept. Brooklyn College of CUNY Brooklyn, NY 11210