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* [TUHS] Unix install & "standalone" package
@ 2023-09-04 14:44 Norman Wilson
  2023-09-04 14:55 ` [TUHS] " Vincenzo Nicosia
                   ` (3 more replies)
  0 siblings, 4 replies; 27+ messages in thread
From: Norman Wilson @ 2023-09-04 14:44 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: tuhs

I don't remember any special many-programs-in-one binary
like busybox in any Unix from the days when Unix was simple
enough for me to understand.  That covers the entire lifetime
of the Research systems, but also System V and the BSDs and
their sundry offspring up into at least the 1990s.

I'm pretty sure OpenBSD at least still has nothing like
busybox.  The nearest thing was to make sure certain programs
were linked statically (or existed in alternate statically-
linked versions) so they would work before shared libraries
were available.  (It seems to be common wisdom that `sbin'
means `system bin' these days, but I remember once, long ago,
being told it stood for `static bin'.)

Perhaps the question to ask is why such a magic program is
needed at all.  Is it just because programs like the shell
have become so large and unwieldy that they won't fit in
a small environment suitable for loading into an initramfs?

Older UNIXes, even on the VAX, didn't use an initramfs.
the boot code had just enough understanding of devices and
file systems to load the kernel and to point it at the
real root file system.  The VAX hardware designers had
a clever scheme on many (but, strangely, not all) VAX
variants by which the hardware had several little boot
ROMs, each containing a bare-bones read-only device
driver for a particular device along with a few
instructions to read the first sector into memory
and start it, with pointers to the boot-rom driver
and device ID in specified registers.  That was enough
to support a device-independent Unix boot block that
could read unix (or another file name typed on the
console) from the root of the file system at the start
of the disk.  I know it was because I wrote such a
boot block, though I don't know whether anyone else
did.  (Other systems, I think, just used it to load
/boot, a larger and more-capable program.)

Maybe it was just that the boot environment was simpler
in older systems, without the need to load kernel modules
or support multiple locations and means of access for
the root?

Norman Wilson
Toronto ON

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 27+ messages in thread
* [TUHS] Unix install & "standalone" package
@ 2023-09-04  9:57 Paul Ruizendaal via TUHS
  2023-09-04 14:53 ` [TUHS] " emanuel stiebler
  2023-09-04 17:07 ` Warner Losh
  0 siblings, 2 replies; 27+ messages in thread
From: Paul Ruizendaal via TUHS @ 2023-09-04  9:57 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: tuhs

Recently, I was looking into the “Das U-Boot” boot loader package. Summarised with great simplification, u-boot bundles device drivers, file systems, commands and a Bourne-like shell into a standalone package. Normally it auto-runs a script that brings up a system, but when used in interactive mode it allows a great deal of poking around.

It made me think of the “standalone” set of programs for installing early Unix. On 16-bit understandably each basic command has to be a separate standalone program, but after the shift to 32-bit bundling more functionality in a single binary would have become possible.

How did the Unix “standalone” package evolve in the 80’s, both in the research and BSD lineages? Is there any retrospective paper about that? Or is it a case of “Use the source, Luke”?

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 27+ messages in thread

end of thread, other threads:[~2023-09-11 22:06 UTC | newest]

Thread overview: 27+ messages (download: mbox.gz / follow: Atom feed)
-- links below jump to the message on this page --
2023-09-04 14:44 [TUHS] Unix install & "standalone" package Norman Wilson
2023-09-04 14:55 ` [TUHS] " Vincenzo Nicosia
2023-09-04 17:20   ` Warner Losh
2023-09-04 19:05     ` Clem Cole
2023-09-05 17:03       ` Paul Winalski
2023-09-05 18:02         ` Clem Cole
2023-09-04 19:59     ` Theodore Ts'o
2023-09-04 23:51       ` Warner Losh
2023-09-04 17:18 ` Warner Losh
2023-09-04 22:10 ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2023-09-05 15:53   ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2023-09-06 17:50     ` Warner Losh
2023-09-07  0:11       ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2023-09-07 16:05         ` Warner Losh
2023-09-08 14:58           ` Theodore Ts'o
2023-09-08 13:56     ` Michael Kjörling
2023-09-08 23:38       ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2023-09-09 22:43         ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2023-09-11  4:10         ` Theodore Ts'o
2023-09-11 22:05           ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2023-09-05  1:07 ` Jonathan Gray
  -- strict thread matches above, loose matches on Subject: below --
2023-09-04  9:57 [TUHS] " Paul Ruizendaal via TUHS
2023-09-04 14:53 ` [TUHS] " emanuel stiebler
2023-09-04 17:07 ` Warner Losh
2023-09-04 18:21   ` Dan Cross
2023-09-05 11:15   ` Paul Ruizendaal via TUHS
2023-09-05 14:15     ` Clem Cole
2023-09-05 17:03     ` Warner Losh

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