[TUHS] Early non-Unix filesystems?

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Fri Mar 18 23:04:26 AEST 2016

FYI:  To be fair to the IBM systems of the time, TSS and MTS had a naming
scheme that used dots (.) as the path separators in their pathnames and
they too supported a directory/subdirectory idea.   While ugly in my
opinion compared to UNIX, not really much worse than later schemes that DEC
would use for TOPS, RSX, VMS et al (I once got into a "discussion" with
Cutler about VMS's #$%%^ filenames but that's a different story).

The key point is that around this time the idea of "sub-directories" began
to become important.   The file cabinet metaphor was beginning to come into
age as people recognized the systems using "soft files" had the same issues
that "paper files" and they needed some way to build up similar "filing
mechanisms" with cabinets, drawers, file folder etc....

That said, I agree that  OS/360 was primitive but being batch oriented, I
think did not consider the "human factors" the way the time sharing system
required started to do.

Anyway back to Warren's questions -- the idea of a disk "catalog" for the
meta-data was not new to UNIX.   Tannenbaum's books (starting with the
Minux book) describes the history and the idea reasonably well.    What
UNIX did was create a user file type called  a directory (eventually user
create-able) and was able to separated the human name for the bag of bit
(i.e. the data itself) from the catalog or system name for those same bits.
  As AST puts it, UNIX has a two level file system, one for the OS which is
numerical in nature (the i-node) and then layered on top of it was
something humans liked better.

Again, by breaking the idea/metaphor of a files and file cabinets into two
pieces - higher level (human oriented) and lower level (system specific),
like the splitting the command system of the shell out of the OS
fork/exec/wait primitives, UNIX ended up with something more more flexible
and scalable.


On Fri, Mar 18, 2016 at 4:42 AM, Peter Jeremy <peter at rulingia.com> wrote:

> On 2016-Mar-18 19:00:00 +1100, Dave Horsfall <dave at horsfall.org> wrote:
> >On Fri, 18 Mar 2016, Warren Toomey wrote:
> >> It's a bit off-topic, but what were non-Unix filesystems like around
> >> 1969-1970?
> >
> >With my IBM/360 experience, "horrible".
> That's being unfair to filesystems.  You can't call what you got with
> OS/360 a "filesystem".  IMHO, a filesystem needs more than a way to
> associate a name with a manually-allocated region of DASD.
> --
> Peter Jeremy
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://minnie.tuhs.org/pipermail/tuhs/attachments/20160318/f0c1d989/attachment.html>

More information about the TUHS mailing list