[TUHS] TUHS Digest, Vol 106, Issue 1

A. P. Garcia a.phillip.garcia at gmail.com
Wed Sep 4 00:02:39 AEST 2013

On Tue, Sep 3, 2013 at 8:09 AM, Doug McIlroy <doug at cs.dartmouth.edu> wrote:

> We in research would have preferred to seek a
> general solution that would suffice to serve the various demands.
> Besides, anything that we produced but didn't use ourselves would
> automatically be suspect. We were very wary of featuritis.
> Somewhere between the wariness of research Unix, where
> an ethos of generality ruled, and Linux, which offers a dozen ways
> to do anything, there must lie a happy medium--a medium that I
> believe would be much closer to Unix than Linux. That, alas, has
> not proved to be the way of open source.

it happened to unix too, though. maybe not to research, due to the
ethos you describe, but it doesn't sound like Ken Thompson was
entirely happy with some of the things other people did:

"Probably the glaring error in Unix was that it underevaluated the
concept of remoteness. The open-close-read-write interface should have
been encapsulated together as something for remoteness; something that
brought a group of interfaces together as a single thing - a remote
file system as opposed to a local file system.

Unix lacked that concept; there was just one group of
open-close-read-write interfaces. It was a glaring omission and was
the reason that some of the awful things came into Unix like ptrace
and some of the system calls. Every time I looked at later versions of
Unix there were 15 new system calls, which tells you something's
wrong. I just didn't see it at the time. This was fixed in a fairly
nice way in Plan 9." --Ken Thompson

i also recall, well, a rant of sorts by tuhs's own Larry McVoy, where
he argued pretty vigorously to strip out all the cruft.

More information about the TUHS mailing list