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From: Jacob Ritorto <>
To: Will Senn <>
Cc: tuhs main list <>
Subject: Re: [TUHS] v7 /etc/ttys and /usr/adm/wtmp shenanigans
Date: Fri, 31 Dec 2021 21:46:05 -0500	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <>

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My boss 23 years ago (who was at CMU in the eighties working on systems
like these) told me that on some systems, when cleaning up wtmp, it's
necessary to truncate the wtmp file (i.e. cat /dev/null into it -- never to
flat out remove it) because something in the system doesn't let go of the
inode (or somesuch) that it thinks the file was on.  I never understood why
but have done what he told me since then :)

I wonder if this has something to do with your phenomenon.

On Fri, Dec 31, 2021 at 4:41 PM Will Senn <> wrote:

> I enabled user accounting on my v7 instance and I noticed it "growing
> without bound" and while this is noted as a possibility in the ac(1) man
> page, I was pretty sure the original authors didn't mean 30k a second. I
> scratched my head and thought for a while and then started experimenting to
> see what the heck was going on. I removed /usr/adm/wtmp (which I had
> created to enable accounting in the first place) and the little red disk
> write arrow on my mac went away, but not the little green disk read
> arrow... hmm. Something was keeping my v7 instance very busy reading disk,
> that was for sure. I went through a few (dozens) more tests and
> experiments, reread a bunch of man pages, Ritchie's v7 install note, and
> thought some more and here's what I came up with...
> If you modify your system to add dci lines and you enable some ttys in
> /etc/ttys and you enable user accounting. Then, the next time you boot into
> a kernel that doesn't have dci support, init or some other process will try
> and fail to read the enabled ttys, log something in /usr/adm/wtmp, if it
> exists, and then loop (very quickly), over and over and over. If you aren't
> paying attention, this will hardly be noticeable on modern hardware running
> simh, but I'm guessing this would have been disastrous, back in the day.
> The simple solution is to boot w/dci enabled when you have ttys enabled,
> and only boot w/o dci enabled when you have disabled the ttys.
> I'm guessing that this wasn't really ever an issue, back in the day, as
> folks prolly didn't just yank their dci's and reboot a different kernel?
> But, such are the joys of simulation.
> Anyhow, if this doesn't sound like a very likely or reasonable analysis of
> what was happening, I'd appreciate your letting me know, or if you've
> experienced something like it before, it'd be great to know that I'm not
> alone in this silliness.
> Will

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  reply	other threads:[~2022-01-01  2:47 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 4+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2021-12-31 20:36 Will Senn
2022-01-01  2:46 ` Jacob Ritorto [this message]
2022-01-01  3:18   ` Erik E. Fair
2022-01-01  3:36     ` George Michaelson

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