[TUHS] The origin of /home

Theodore Y. Ts'o tytso at mit.edu
Fri Sep 28 10:50:01 AEST 2018

On Thu, Sep 27, 2018 at 11:49:02AM -0700, Jon Forrest wrote:
> I actually started my dataless design back when we were running Ultrix.
> It worked fine there too, although back then 10Mbs networking was common
> so it wasn't super speedy. Of course, neither were the workstations.

MIT Project Athena had a dataless design in the late 1980's.  For
read-only remote file systems, Athena developed a Remote Virtual Disk
(RVD) which was intergrated into BSD 4.3.  RVD was a networked block
device, since for read-only file systems it had better scaling
properties than NFS.

The Athena technical plan talks about it in a fair amount of detail.


By 1988 or so we had hundreds of workstations all over MIT that had
its system softare deliviered via RVD, and for which no data would be
stored on the public workstations, which were managed using the
"cattle" metaphor.  If a system wasn't working correctly, a
workstation could be TFTP booted and the base software could be
reinstalled automatically, and the reinstall was fast because the only
files that had to be installed on the local disk was essentially
enough for the system to come up on the network and to mount the RVD.

       	       	      	      	    - Ted

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