[TUHS] If not Linux, then what?
pechter at gmail.com
Thu Aug 29 09:01:28 AEST 2019
On 8/28/2019 6:48 PM, Adam Thornton wrote:
> It probably was the partition/slice confusion that, well, confused me,
> then. My experience, such as it was, was from the DOS world.
As was mine mostly 8-) I remember it from the PITA it was to translate
in my head. Unix folks looked at partitions as /dev/dsk/0s0->0s7 (I
think 7 was the SVR2 maximum. The "Unix" partitions fit inside the
FDISK partition or dos slice... The dos guys looked at it kind of like
the fdisk space disk0 partition 3 (for example) was the partition and
then the BSD folks broke that in to /dev/sd0a /dev/sd0b /dev/sd0c etc.
I did a little SunOS and SysV along with Dos and Windows and could make
them coexist as long as there was an open primary dos partition.
> Although the period I am thinking of was way pre-slackware. You had a
> boot floppy and a root floppy and that was about it, I think. I think
> the kernel had MFM/RLL disk drivers for an ISA bus interface? I
> remember that I could boot the thing on the MCA machines in the lab
> but not actually install it (even had I been allowed to), and I think
> installation was pretty much fdisk/mkfs, extract the tarball...I don't
> remember how you installed the bootloader...which I guess was already
> LILO at that point? Probably just dding the bootsector to the first
> physical sector of the disk? Version 0.08 or so, maybe?
Sounds like SLS -- Soft Landing System -- which later was pretty much
replaced with Slackware. I used the early MCA stuff on PS/2's at IBM
for a while. Most of the PS/2 stuff we had was SCSI. The boot loader
was lilo. It could go in the partition space or disk mbr.
> It was quite a while ago, and I was drunk for most of college,
> so....memory is imprecise at best.
> On Wed, Aug 28, 2019 at 3:28 PM Clem cole <clemc at ccc.com
> <mailto:clemc at ccc.com>> wrote:
> Not true 386BSD used fdisk. It shared the disk just fine. In
> fact I liked the way it sliced the disk much better than Slackware
> in those days.
> Sent from my PDP-7 Running UNIX V0 expect things to be almost but
> not quite.
> On Aug 28, 2019, at 4:27 PM, Adam Thornton <athornton at gmail.com
> <mailto:athornton at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> I was an ardent OS/2 supporter for a long time. Sure, IBM's
>> anemic marketing, and their close-to-outright-hostility to
>> 3rd-party developers didn't help. But what killed it, really,
>> was how damn good its 16-bit support was. It *was* a better DOS
>> than DOS and a better Windows than 3.11fW. So no one wrote to
>> the relatively tiny market of 32-bit OS/2.
>> I fear that had Linux not made the leap, MS might well have won.
>> It's largely the AOL-fuelled explosion of popularity of the
>> Internet and Windows ignoring same until too late that opened the
>> door enough for Linux to jam its foot in.
>> Hurd was, by the time of the '386 Unix Wars and early Linux,
>> clearly not going to be a contender, I guess because it was about
>> cool research features rather than running user-facing code. I
>> kept waiting for a usable kernel to go with what Linux had
>> already shown was a quite decent userspace, but eventually had
>> better things to do with my life (like chase BeOS). It was like
>> waiting for Perl 6--it missed its moment.
>> Plan 9 and Amoeba were both really nifty. I never used
>> Sprite. Neither one of them had much of a chance in the real
>> world. Much like Unix itself, Linux's worse-is-better approach
>> really worked.
>> I have a hypothesis about Linux's ascendance too, which is a
>> personal anecdote I am inflating to the status of hypothesis. As
>> I recall, the *BSDs for 386 all assumed they owned the hard
>> disk. Like, the whole thing. You couldn't, at least in 1992,
>> create a multiboot system--or at least it was my strong
>> impression you could not. I was an undergrad. I had one '386 at
>> my disposal, with one hard disk, and, hey, I needed DOS and
>> Windows to write my papers (I don't know about you, but I wanted
>> to write in my room, where I could have my references at hand and
>> be reasonably undisturbed; sure Framemaker was a much better
>> setup than Word For Windows 1.2 but having to use it in the
>> computer lab made it a nonstarter for me). Papers, and, well, to
>> play games. Sure, that too.
>> Linux let me defragment my drive, non-destructively repartition
>> it, and create a dual-boot system, so that I could both use the
>> computer for school and screw around on Linux. I'm probably not
>> the only person for whom this was a decisive factor.
>> On Wed, Aug 28, 2019 at 1:08 PM Christopher Browne
>> <cbbrowne at gmail.com <mailto:cbbrowne at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> On Mon, 26 Aug 2019 at 19:14, Arthur Krewat
>> <krewat at kilonet.net <mailto:krewat at kilonet.net>> wrote:
>> Leaving licensing and copyright issues out of this mental
>> exercise, what
>> would we have now if it wasn't for Linux? Not what you'd
>> WANT it to be,
>> although that can add to the discussion, but what WOULD
>> it be?
>> I'm not asking as a proponent of Linux. If anything, I
>> was dragged
>> kicking and screaming into the current day and have
>> begrudgingly ceded
>> my server space to Linux.
>> But if not for Linux, would it be BSD? A System V
>> variant? Or (the
>> horror) Windows NT?
>> I can make a firm "dunno" sound :-)
>> Some facts can come together to point away from a number of
>> - If you look at the number of hobbyist "Unix homages" that
>> emerged at around that time, it's clear that there was a
>> sizable community of interested folk willing to build their
>> own thing, and that weren't interested in Windows NT. (Nay,
>> one should put that more strongly... That had their minds
>> set on something NOT from Microsoft.) So I think we can
>> cross Windows NT off the list.
>> - OS/2 should briefly come on the list. It was likable in
>> many ways, if only IBM had actually supported it... But it
>> suffers from something of the same problem as Windows NT;
>> there were a lot of folk that were only slightly less
>> despising of IBM at the time than of Microsoft.
>> - Hurd was imagined to be the next thing...
>> To borrow from my cookie file...
>> "Of course 5 years from now that will be different, but 5
>> years from
>> now everyone will be running free GNU on their 200
>> MIPS, 64M
>> SPARCstation-5." -- Andrew Tanenbaum, 1992.
>> "You'll be rid of most of us when BSD-detox or GNU comes
>> out, which
>> should happen in the next few months (yeah, right)." --
>> Richard Tobin,
>> 1992. [BSD did follow within a year]
>> "I am aware of the benefits of a micro kernel approach.
>> However, the
>> fact remains that Linux is here, and GNU isn't --- and
>> people have
>> been working on Hurd for a lot longer than Linus has been
>> working on
>> Linux." -- Ted T'so, 1992.
>> Ted has been on this thread, and should be amused (and
>> slightly disturbed!) that his old statements are being held
>> here and there, ready to trot out :-).
>> In the absence of Linux, perhaps hackers would have flocked
>> to Hurd, but there was enough going on that there was plenty
>> of room for them to have done so anyways.
>> I'm not sure what to blame on whatever happened post-1992,
>> though I'd put some on Microsoft Research having taken the
>> wind out of Mach's sails by hiring off a bunch of the
>> relevant folk. In order for Hurd to "make it," Mach has to
>> "make it," too, and it looked like they were depending on CMU
>> to be behind that. (I'm not sure I'm right about that; happy
>> to hear a better story.)
>> Anyway, Hurd *might* have been a "next thing," and I don't
>> think the popularity of Linux was enough to have completely
>> taken wind out of its sails, given that there's the dozens of
>> "Unix homages" out there.
>> - I'd like to imagine Plan 9 being an alternative, but it was
>> "properly commercial" for a goodly long time (hence not
>> amenable to attaching waves of hackers to it to add their
>> favorite device drivers), and was never taken as a serious
>> answer. Many of us had admired it from afar via the Dr Dobbs
>> Journal issue (when was that? mid or late '90s?) but only
>> from afar.
>> - FreeBSD is the single best answer I can throw up as a
>> possibility, as it was the one actively targeting 80386
>> hardware. And that had the big risk of the AT&T lawsuit
>> lurking over it, so had that gone in a different direction,
>> then that is a branch sadly easily trimmed.
>> If we lop both Linux and FreeBSD off the list of
>> possibilities, I don't imagine Windows NT or OS/2 bubble to
>> the top, instead, a critical mass would have stood behind ...
>> something else, I'd think. I don't know which to suggest.
>> When confronted by a difficult problem, solve it by reducing
>> it to the
>> question, "How would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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