[TUHS] Surprised about Unix System V in the 80's - so sparse!

Josh Good pepe at naleco.com
Thu Mar 18 06:33:37 AEST 2021

Hello UNIX veterans.

So I stumbled online upon a copy of the book "SCO Xenix System V Operating
System User's Guide", from 1988, advertised as having 395 pages, and the
asked for price was 2.50 EUROs. I bought it, expecting --well, I don't know
exactly what I was expecting, something quaint and interesting, I suppose.

I've received the book, and it is not a treasure trobe, to say the least. I
am in fact surprised at how sparse was UNIX System V of this age, almost

The chapter titles are:

1. Introduction
2. vi: A Text Editor
3. ed
4. mail
5. Communicating with Other Sites
6. bc: A Calculator
7. The Shell
8. The C-Shell
9. Using the Visual Shell

And that's it. The communications part only deals the Micnet (a serial-port
based local networking scheme), and UUCP. No mention at all of the words
"Internet" or "TCP/IP", no even in the Index.

Granted, this Xenix version is derived from System V Release 2, and I think
it was for the Intel 286 (not yet ported to the i386), but hey it's 1988
already and the Internet is supposed to be thriving on UNIX in the Pacific
Coast, or so the lore says. I see now that it probably was only in the
Berkely family that the Internet was going on...

In truth, I fail to see what was the appeal of such a system, for mere
users, when in the same PC you could run rich DOS-based applications like
WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, Ventura Publisher and all the PC software from
those years.

I mean, mail without Internet is pretty useless, althouhg I understand it
could be useful for inter-company communications. And yes, it had vi and the
Bourne Shell. But still, it feels very very limited, this Xenix version,
from a user's point of view.

I'm probably spoiled from Linux having repositories full of packaged free
software, where the user just has to worry about "which is the best of":
email program, text editor, browser, image manipulation program, video
player, etc. I understand this now pretty well, how spoiled are we these

Josh Good

More information about the TUHS mailing list