[TUHS] Commercial UNIX was other stuff before

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Mon Feb 4 06:58:39 AEST 2019

On Sun, Feb 3, 2019 at 2:59 PM Cág <ca6c at bitmessage.ch> wrote:

> [Hockey Pucks and AIX are alive, Wikipedia says.
> The problem could be that neither support amd64 and/or

 Be careful.  The history of proprietary commercial UNIX implementations is
that they were developed by HW manufacturers that had proprietary ISAs.  So
that fact that UX was Itanium and AIX was Power (or Tru64 in its day was
Alpha) should not be surprising.  It was the way the market developed. Each
vendor sold a unique ecosystem and tried very hard to keep you in it.
Portability was designed as an >>import<< idea, and they tried to keep you
from exporting by getting you to use 'value add.'

I remember during the reign of terror that Solaris created.  Take as an
example, the standard portable threading library was pThreads.   But
Solaris threads were faster and Sun did everything it could get the ISV's
write using Solaris Threads.  Guess what -- they did.  So at DEC we found
ourselves implementing a Solaris Threads package for Tru64, so the ISVs
could run their code (I don't know if IBM or HP did it too, because at the
time, our competition was Sun).

BTW:  this attitude was nothing new.  I've said it before, the greatest
piece of marketing DEC ever did was convince the world that VMS Fortran was
Fortran-77.  It was not close.   And when you walked into most people
writing real production code (in Fortran of course), you discovered they
had used all of the VMS Fortran extensions.   When the UNIX folks arrived
on the scene the f77 in Seventh Edition was not good enough.  You saw first
Masscomp in '85, then a year later Apollo and 2 years after that, Sun
develop really, really good Fortran's -- all that were VMS Fortran

nobody cares about commercial Unix systems anymore.
This is a bit of blind and sweeping statement which again, I would take
some care.
There are very large commercial sites that continue to run proprietary UNIX
on those same proprietary ISAs, often with ISV and in-home developed
applications that are quite valuable.  For instance, a lot of the financial
and insurance industries live here.   The question comes to how to value
and count it.   Just because the hackers don't work there, does not mean
there are not a lots firms doing it.

Those sites are extremely large and represent a lot of money.  The number
of them is unlikely to be growing last time I looked at the numbers.  In
fact, in some cases, they >>are<< being displaced by Intel*64 systems
running a flavor of Linux.   The key driver for this was the moving the
commercial applications such as Oracle and SAP to Linux and in particular,
Linux running on VMs.  But a huge issue was code reuse.   To reuse, Henry's
great line about BSD, Linux is just like Unix; only different.

Simply has the cost of maintaining your own ISA and complete SW ecosystem
for it continues to rise and in fact is getting more and more expensive as
the market shrinks.  At this point, the only ones left are HP, IBM and the
shadow of Sunoracle.  They are servicing a market that is fixed.

> As far as commercial systems go, even CentOS has a far larger market
> share on the supercomputer territory than RHEL does, according to
> TOP500.
Again be careful.  In fact this my world that I have lived for about 40+
years.   The Top100 system folks really do not want any stinking OS between
their application and the hardware.  They never have.  Don't kid yourself.
This is why systems like mOS (Rolf Riesen's MultiOS slides
<https://wrome.github.io/slides/rome16_riesen.pdf>  and github sources
<https://github.com/intel/mOS/wiki>) are being developed.

Simply put, the HPC folks have always wanted the OS out the way.   Unix was
a convenience for them and Linux just replaced UNIX.   The RHEL licensing
scheme is per CPU and on a Beowulf style cluster, it does not make a lot of

I know a lot of the Linux community likes to crow about the supers using
Linux.  They really don't  Its what runs on the login node and the job
scheduler.   It could be anything as long as its cheap, fast and the
physicists can hack on it.   This is a behavior that goes back the
Manhatten Project and its unchanged.  The 'capability' systems are a
high-end world that is tuned for a very specific job.   You can learn a lot
in that area, but because about making generalizations.

As I like to say -- Fortran still pays my salary.   These folks codes are
unchanged since my father's time as a 'computer' at Rocket Dyne in the
1950s.   What has changed is the size of the datasets.  But open up those
codes and you'll discover the same math.  They tend to be equation
solvers.  We just have a lot more variables.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://minnie.tuhs.org/pipermail/tuhs/attachments/20190203/c61a32cc/attachment.html>

More information about the TUHS mailing list