[TUHS] Open sourcing SunOS?

Brad Spencer brad at anduin.eldar.org
Thu Feb 23 06:44:30 AEST 2023

Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> writes:

> On Wed, Feb 22, 2023 at 01:04:37PM -0700, Warner Losh wrote:
>> On Wed, Feb 22, 2023, 8:50 AM Dan Cross <crossd at gmail.com> wrote:
>> > Has anyone tried talking to anyone at Oracle about possibly getting
>> > the SunOS code released under an open source license? There can't be
>> > any commercial value left in it.
>> >
>> SunOS 4 has a lot of encumbered code in it, especially for i386 drivers.
> There is SunOS as in everything shipped, kernel and userspace, and there
> is the kernel.  So far as I remember, the i386 stuff was never integrated
> into the source tree that Sun shipped from.  There was the roadrunner
> stuff but I don't think that ever made it in to the official tree.  If
> it did, nobody paid attention to it.  All people cared about at the 
> time as SPARC and I don't think there was any outsourced hacking for
> SPARC, that was all in house.
> The networking stack in SunOS 4.x was BSD derived.  You might be thinking
> of Solaris, that took the Lachman STREAMS stack but that was 5.x, not
> 4.x.
> As the only guy, that I'm aware of, who took all the encumbered stuff
> out of the kernel, put back the BSD tty drivers and a few other small
> things that resulted in a kernel that we could freely open source,
> I beg to differ with:
>> Bits of the
>> network stack as well. It was hopeless to try to open source. There was a
>> lot of bits
>> and pieces that Sun had done with contracts that were, at best, ambiguous
>> for
>> what to do should they want to open source it. 

There may have been other parallel efforts in one form or the other.  I
know that there existed a patch to SunOS 4.1.3 that updated the network
stack to a newer version from Berkeley that gained a couple of new
features over the one Sun delivered.  The patch was source code, but it
was possible with this patch to apply it to a binary copy of SunOS and
recompile / compile a new kernel that had the new stack in it, that is,
you didn't need the full source to the kernel.  It was a long time ago
and I don't remember the details exactly, but I did use it on a file /
build / NIS server we had in the department at AT&T/Lucent where I was
at.  My point mostly being that hacking on SunOS 4.x appears to have
happened here and there.  It certainly would have been nice to have a
open source SunOS 4.x around although the userland may have presented
its own trouble.

Brad Spencer - brad at anduin.eldar.org - KC8VKS - http://anduin.eldar.org

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