PUPS, BUPS, BURPS, and other stomach upsets

norman at nose.cs.yorku.ca norman at nose.cs.yorku.ca
Tue Aug 4 22:55:30 AEST 1998

The recent fuss seems to me to be much overdone, mainly because of
a small number of people with strong views and a restless urge to
type.  Here's my view, which I hold with some strength, but with
little religious zeal.

The top of Warren's web page about PUPS says the society is
`devoted to the preservation of all information related to the
versions of Unix that ran on Digital PDPs.'  It seems pretty
clear to me that his original intent was to collect and keep
historic data, not to Promote The One True Unix nor to Support
Software That We Approve Of nor to Make Money Fast.  (No slur
intended on those who do want to do those things.)  Certainly
that is the basis on which I joined the mailing list, and on
which I've contributed the small amount of time I've put in.

It makes sense to me that efforts to preserve post-PDP11 Unix
systems be coordinated with PUPS, whether that means folding
them into the same society or just having several groups that
share.  I would suggest that a single society (even if run as
several distributed pieces) would probably be less work in the
long run, and think that `UNIX Heritage Society' is a fine name.
(Just plain `UNIX Society' is too broad; it sounds like a
duplication of USENIX.)  Those who think `heritage' and
`preservation' are dirty words are, I think, missing the point;
see the paragraph above.

All of this is likely to involve more work for someone.  I don't
know just who has done what to make PUPS work, but it looks to
me like the bulk of the work has fallen on Warren; certainly he
did the single hardest part, that of getting things started.
Those of us who think the society should do more things should
be prepared to put our money, labour, and whatnot where our mouths

In that spirit: I'm not likely to have much time to help out for
the next few months, as I'm starting a new job, and just keeping
my project to recover the old manuals into machine-readable form
will soak up most of my spare cycles.  (Apologies to all that the
samples and whatnot I'd hoped to put up on the web still aren't
up, by the way; winding down my present work commitments and
trying to arrange a graceful startup of my new ones has taken a
lot more effort than expected.)  It may be possible in my new
world to help out with some computing resources, e.g. a Canadian
mirror of the PUPS archives; I'll try to plan for that in the
already-being-planned upheaval of my new world's computing environment.
If the master PUPS site is short of resources, e.g. could use
another disk or two, I'd be happy to help out with some cash.

I encourage others who can help out to speak up.  Judging by the
amount of mail that has passed through the mailing list recently
(almost 5% of an RK05 by my count), there should be some spare
energy out there somewhere.

It may also be worth while to approach USENIX for support;
preserving UNIX heritage is certainly not foreign to them, and
their current president has some history of preservation work.

Norman Wilson

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