Computer Old Farts Forum
 help / color / mirror / Atom feed
From: "Theodore Y. Ts'o" <>
To: Clem Cole <>
Cc: Computer Old Farts Followers <>,
	TUHS main list <>,
	Douglas McIlroy <>
Subject: Re: [COFF] [TUHS] 386BSD released
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2021 21:58:53 -0400	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <>

On Thu, Jul 15, 2021 at 04:30:15PM -0400, Clem Cole wrote:
> Ted - that *is what* Doug pointed out!!!  They did not create anything that
> was new.  SHARED / DECUS / USENIX and the like were providing that exact
> same function starting in the late 1950s!!!  Companies and Universities all
> pooled their resources to make things better and to get new and improved
> solutions.    Sometimes they started with things that come from the
> original OEM.  Also often they created their own technology and made it
> available to everyone.  Sometime they combine both.  And it was a
> 'bazaar where everyone had access and you chose to use it to not.  Sounds
> pretty familiar, BTW.

I remember looking at the DECUS program catalog for the PDP-8, and I
seem to recall that for the most part, individuals were sharing their
programs with others.  In that way, it wasn't all that different from
say, CPM/UG, and HUG (Heathkit Users Group).  But the thing is, for
the most part, it was a single author sharing individual programs, and
often changes were not accepted back.  

Consider the history of Bill Jolitz and 386BSD, and the collection of
patches that eventuallya became NetBSD and FreeBSD, which was formed
because they were frustrated that they couldn't get their patch sets
back into Jolitz's code base.  Technology plays a part, in that it
enables the change.  But it's not just about technology.  There is
also a very strong social component.  Even when you were richly
interconnected at the network level, this does not guarantee that will
be willing to be richly interconnected in terms of accepting patch
sets from people who you may not know across the Internet, into *your*
program, for which you are the author and high priest.

I don't remember the exact date, but it would have been in the early
90's, when at the time I was already contributing patches to Linux,
and where ftp and e-mail and applying patches via context diffs was
very much available.  At that time, we were interested in getting
support for MIT Project Athena's Hesiod extenstions into the BIND
distributions (we had just been carrying patches against BIND for many

In order to get those patches integrated, Paul Vixie invited me to his
house in Redwood City, and so I flew from Boston to San Francisco,
carrying my Linux laptop with the BIND patches, and we got the patches
integrated into master BIND sources.  Paul was a gracious host, and it
was lovely that I got to spend some time with him.  But it was
interesting that my physical presence was needed, or at least highly
useful, in terms of getting those patches into BIND.  Requiring
physical presence to get patches integrated.... doesn't scale.

And so it wasn't a matter of technology, since the technology for
Linus, who didn't know me from Adam in 1991, to accept patches from me
implementing BSD Job Control, was certainly available when I was
working with Paul to get the Hesiod changes integrated into BIND.  But
like with Jolitz and 386BSD, it's a mindset thing, not just technology.

I also want to emphasize again, the question of business model is also
something which I think is different, and *important*.  It's one thing
for Academics and Researchers to be willing to give changes away to
anyone who wants.  It's quite another for a company to give away their
intellectual property in such a way that it can actually be used by
their competitors, either because that's the social convention, or
because it's enforced by the license.  Was the practices we use today
for Linux built on the traditions of comp.sources.unix, and BSD, and
AT&T Research, and IBM making sources available for System/360, yadda,
yadda, yadda?  Of course!  I'm not denying that.

But at the same time, to claim that nothing is new under the Sun, and
*all* of this had been done decades earlier, is also not the whole
story.  And to call IBM releasing System/360, when they retained
control of the license, and wasn't accepting any changes back, and
*darned* well would have sued anyone trying to use that code on
non-IBM computers into a smoking crater, as "Open Source" can be
highly misleading, because that is not what most people associate with
the term "Open Source" today.

And if we take a look at what AT&T Lawyers did with the Unix source
code, at some point, it most *defintely* was the antithesis of "Open
Source".  Which would lead me to assert that Unix was never really
released under what today we would call, "Open Source".


					- Ted
COFF mailing list

  reply	other threads:[~2021-07-16  2:00 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 31+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
     [not found] <>
     [not found] ` <>
2021-07-15  6:33   ` Michael Kjörling
2021-07-15 20:44     ` Derek Fawcus
2021-07-15 15:07   ` Clem Cole
2021-07-15 19:33     ` Theodore Y. Ts'o
2021-07-15 20:30       ` Clem Cole
2021-07-16  1:58         ` Theodore Y. Ts'o [this message]
2021-07-16  2:14           ` George Michaelson
2021-07-16 18:02           ` Grant Taylor via COFF
2021-07-17  4:09             ` Theodore Y. Ts'o
2021-07-17  6:30               ` [COFF] " Tom Ivar Helbekkmo via COFF
2021-07-17 12:37                 ` Theodore Y. Ts'o
2021-07-17 13:30                   ` Tom Ivar Helbekkmo via COFF
2021-07-18  3:29               ` [COFF] [TUHS] " Grant Taylor via COFF
2021-07-18  3:42                 ` David Arnold
2021-07-18  4:01                   ` Grant Taylor via COFF
2021-07-19 13:41                     ` Theodore Y. Ts'o
2021-07-19 14:50                       ` Clem Cole
2021-07-19 17:38                         ` Theodore Y. Ts'o
2021-07-19 19:33                           ` John P. Linderman
2021-07-19 20:21                             ` Clem Cole
2021-07-20  1:05                             ` Grant Taylor via COFF
2021-07-19 20:08                           ` Clem Cole
2021-07-20  0:55                             ` Theodore Y. Ts'o
2021-07-18  6:44                   ` Andy Kosela
2021-07-16 16:11         ` Jonathan Corbet
2021-07-15 23:02       ` joe mcguckin
     [not found] <>
     [not found] ` <213a4c11-3ab2-4b4a-8d6b-b52105a19711@localhost>
     [not found]   ` <>
2021-07-14 15:01     ` Clem Cole
2021-07-14 17:40       ` Theodore Y. Ts'o
2021-07-14 17:50         ` Larry McVoy
2021-07-14 18:28         ` Clem Cole
2021-07-14 20:03         ` John Cowan

Reply instructions:

You may reply publicly to this message via plain-text email
using any one of the following methods:

* Save the following mbox file, import it into your mail client,
  and reply-to-all from there: mbox

  Avoid top-posting and favor interleaved quoting:

* Reply using the --to, --cc, and --in-reply-to
  switches of git-send-email(1):

  git send-email \ \ \ \ \ \ \
    --subject='Re: [COFF] [TUHS] 386BSD released' \

* If your mail client supports setting the In-Reply-To header
  via mailto: links, try the mailto: link

This is a public inbox, see mirroring instructions
for how to clone and mirror all data and code used for this inbox;
as well as URLs for NNTP newsgroup(s).