[TUHS] UNIX turns forty

Ian King iking at killthewabbit.org
Sat Jun 6 02:06:39 AEST 2009

On Jun 5, 2009, at 7:40 AM, John Cowan wrote:

> Brian S Walden scripsit:
>> http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do? 
>> command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9133570
> Not a bad article, really, but <rant>I do get very tired of this rigid
> separation of Linux and Unix.  No, Linux doesn't have any AT&T code,
> but there isn't all that much left in Solaris or *BSD either (other
> than header files and such).  And no, Linux distros aren't Unix- 
> branded
> at present, but FWIU, that's because certification is neither fast nor
> cheap, and applies only to a given release.  Commercial Linuxes  
> have fast
> release cycles, and Debian, whose release cycles are slow, can't  
> afford
> certification.  But in terms of actual, rather than formal,  
> compliance,
> Linux is as much a Unix as any branded Unix.</rant>

Not a very *good* article, either, IMHO.  One gets the impression the  
author of the piece was given two or three pieces of data and  
instructed to write a historical drama around them.  I also suspect  
he's never seen a PDP-7, either.  Until about two years ago, one of  
these 'wimpy' machines was running a particle accelerator at the  
University of Oregon.  It was unnecessary to slam the PDP-7 to make  
the point that Unix was created on a computer of modest resources.

Unix bloat occurred for the same reason any other piece of software  
bloats up: users want to do less and get more.  While it's true that  
some programmers and companies are better than others at adding  
features without adding heft, most find such exercise in economy  
unnecessary given the "throw another giga[byte | hertz] at it"  
culture that currently prevails.

It's also amusing he introduces the NT kernel as some sort of  
'perfect foil' to Unix, without even mentioning its VMS roots - as  
though it sprang fully formed from the aether.  The reason NT was  
competitive is that Unix configuration and administration has never  
been a task for the meek.  The goal of Windows was to reduce - or  
hide - complexity and lower the intellectual 'cost' of entry.  It's  
not clear that newer versions have in fact accomplished that.  :-)

In other words, this read like any other popularized account - which  
would be expected, if it had been published in Ladies Home Journal.   
-- Ian 

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