Message ID: 212386
Posted By: bill_beebe
Posted On: 2004-12-12 09:34:00
Subject: ULTRIX - DEC's poor attempt at Unix

Comments with regards to DEC, SCOX, and DEC ULTRIX. These comments may or may not help others understand what DEC was up to during the mid 80s.

I worked for Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin) from 1986-88. I had by my desk a microVAX running DEC ULTRIX. Nothing fancy, meaning no X. Login was always via terminal, whether it was at the box or across DECNet. But being DEC gear, it cost a pretty penny. The following "facts" stand out from my experiences with DEC, VMS, and ULTRIX:

1) ULTRIX was originally based in BSD 4.2, especially the userland tools.
2) DEC pushed VMS over ULTRIX where ever possible, and only offered ULTRIX to keep regular UNIX out of big DEC accounts. DEC considered UNIX to be an adversary on its own hardware; DEC wanted everything to be DEC, software and hardware. This is the very same reasoning DEC used when they developed and sold the DEC Rainbow as an answer to the IBM PC.

DEC was no IBM. DEC's entrenched OS was VMS, not UNIX/ULTRIX. So I can see where DEC just wanted a turn-key version of UNIX with the necessary string changes (i.e. DEC where appropriate) in the source code. While DEC did provide enough information about the VAX hardware for the Berkeley group to write software for BSD, I would be surprised if DEC did not have an agreement equivalent to IBMS's concerning some special DEC methods and processes with regards to VAX programming hardware. This would have come out of VMS development and could have even concerned some specific VMS code moving into the BSD UNIX kernel.

Ah, well. Idle speculation.

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