Daily Archives: May 17, 2012

Unix – rip

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[Today’s run: 3 miles consisting mostly of 100 yrd repeats]

One of the jobs I’ve held, long ago, was in a group of people porting a software package to work on many flavors of the Unix operating system.  Unix was developed by Bell Labs, part of AT&T, back in 1970s.  It became popular because of a nexus of issues.  AT&T wasn’t in the computer business, so they let people at universities and research labs have Unix for free, more or less.

About the time I came along, Unix was making inroads into the commercial markets.  Computer manufacturers could license Unix from AT&T and run it on their hardware.  So almost every computer hardware company had a slightly different version of Unix.  They usually put their own name on it.

Also, people at the University of California at Berkley did up their own version of Unix and it was even easier to get for cheap.

So, I played with Unix variants on IBM, Sequent, Pyramid, Data General, Sun, AT&T, NCR, HP, Apollo… lots of different flavors of Unix.

Nowdays I can only think of three  companies that have a Unix variant: IBM, Oracle(Sun) and HP. And those are also the three main workstation (hardware) vendors too.

We are winding down the days of the Unix workstation.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this is because Oracle, which was just a software vendor until they scooped up Sun, announced that spring that they would no longer do development for HP’s flavor of Unix (HP-UX).  HP says they will no longer make their own processor but instead shift to using processors from Intel, not much different from what is in your own home computer.

The thing that has killed Unix is Linux, a free unix-rewrite  that has taken over the operating system world using a pattern of software development called  open source.  The old guys kept everything under wraps.  With open source, anyone can see the source code and submit changes to it.There are different variants of Linux.  But the central part is the same.

Linux runs on PC-compatible hardware  (and a few other things).  So the mid-range computer world is slowly being absorbed by the evolved PC platform and Linux.

I started running Linux on 486 machines in the early 1990s.  It’s no surprise that Unix variants are going away, this has been coming for a long time.

The issue now is what kind of pain is going to happen in the last few years of AIX (IBM), HP-UX(HP) and Solaris (Oracle/Sun) as the expertise in those areas dries up?  Oracle is stomping the life out of HP-UX.  But Solaris won’t be far behind.  AIX probably has the best shot of going forward, but IBM has also made a big investment in Linux development.

 

 

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May 17, 2012
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