[TUHS] A repository with 44 years of Unix evolution gets the MSR '15 Best Data Showcase Award

scj at yaccman.com scj at yaccman.com
Fri May 22 05:54:06 AEST 2015

My contribution to the author attribution is to point out that, at least
in the Research Bell Labs days, there was a unique but very effective
rule--if you touch it, you own it!  People were encouraged to hack the
code rather than complain to the previous authors.  But when they did,
they owned the result, bugs and all.

For example, I invented the first "at" command.  My contribution was
primarily the name and some of the syntax.  My implementation was as a
shell script, which absolutely revolted Dennis.  Within a couple of days
he had replaced it with a jewel that not only ran the command at the
correct time, but from the correct directory and with the correct
permissions.  I never touched it again...

I've never again worked with a group that took such an approach to
ownership, and I have frequently missed it...


> The most useful
> community contribution would be to increase the coverage of imported
> snapshot files that are attributed to a specific author. Currently,
> about 90 thousand files (out of a total of 160 thousand) are getting
> assigned an author through a default rule. Similarly, there are about
> 250 authors (primarily early FreeBSD ones) for which only the identifier
> is known. Both are listed in the build repository's unmatched directory
> [6], and contributions are welcomed (start with early editions; I can
> propagate from there). Most importantly, more branches of open source
> systems can be added, such as NetBSD OpenBSD, DragonFlyBSD, and illumos.
> Ideally, current right holders of other important historical Unix
> releases, such as System III, System V, NeXTSTEP, and SunOS, will
> release their systems under a license that would allow their
> incorporation into this repository.  If you know people who can help in
> this, please nudge them.
> --Diomidis

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