0 thoughts on “History of the Unix Operating System

  1. I’ve bumped around Unix variants throughout my career, though most heavily with the RedHat and Debian Linux distros.

    For server side I love Linux. You cannot beat it.

  2. cut my teeth on Unix. Was such a disappointment when early Windows (as an application) caught on. The idea that you could log on to any computer remotely, or send your display to any other screen, or that you logged on at all, with access levels, etc… so many things that Windows and DOS just screwed up and they’re still paying for today.

    I still feel most at home at a command prompt. Am loving Ubuntu – thank you Greg for spurring me to try it on my laptop. I work remotely in a windows environment and am able to do everything but through Linux, VPN, serve up the remote Windows desktops, IM & chat. Star Office accepts and creates all the docs, it’s great. Not able to connect completely to Outlook, but I hardly use that anyway.

    Don’t think it has Windows ease of use and support but it is definitely getting there! Much quicker and robust than windows, and if I want to change anything – I’ve got the source. One issue – with the added complexity of a GUI based workspace I find that things crash and hang more than I remember on Unix (Firefox especially).

  3. As long as Linux has been around, the fact ScienceBlog poster Greg Laden is suddenly agog as a fanboy twittering about basic things anyone generally conversant with Linux would know as he’s learning astounds me and makes me laugh. What a NOOB.

  4. Phaedrus: The root of all evil is Flash. I mean, you’ve gotta worry about code that is supposed to be for running INSIDE your browser but that cares what chip your computer is using. That’s like signing for a package from FedEx and the delivery person needs to know what kind of heating system you have in your house and what’s in your refrigerator.

  5. Flash is perfectly fine. All it is is a way of isolating platform differences so that you’ve got one predictable set of behaviours for advanced artwork to be presented within. Of course, in its early days (ie, past decade or so) the way it integrated with browsers varied and demonstrated much dodginess, but the advantage was that I could create something in Flash and not have to worry about how it would look – it’d look exactly like it looks on my machine here.

    The Flash download is acceptably lightweight and the actual binary format is open and accessible (though not changeable) by anyone who wants to read it. That it’s binary isn’t really the problem it’s made out to be, unless you’ve never spent time sifting through things with a hex editor and a look-up table to correlate codes with instructions (which I remember doing back in the early 90s when I was working with the TIFF format).

    But these days, Flash is waning. Most people who had learned ActionScript 2.x (which is essentially ECMAscript on a parallel with Javascript 1.5) looked at the completely different ActionScript 3, and decided not to learn it and jumped ship to become Ajax practitioners instead. This is good, because it demonstrated that the advance in libraries that we now work with has rendered many of the reasons for adopting Flash as invalid – Ajax libraries can more or less mean that things look predictable on different platforms, can move, and are not tied to a specific provider (although to be fair, Adobe’s ownership of Flash was actually quite beneficial, stimulating and benevolent compared to what it might have been if it were a MS technology then).

    Now we have other ways of achieving the same sort of ends – SVGweb for example ( http://code.google.com/p/svgweb/ ) which uses open and free standards, authorable by anyone. Ironically, it still uses Flash as a fall-through technology if it can’t find suitable capabilities on the browser it’s working on, but at least you’re now able to get a predictable output across platforms, until at least the horrible non-compliant browsers go away one day.

    Flash is basically just used nowadays as a container for video (which is demoting the whole Flash platform to about 0.5% of what it can do), and even that might go away given widespread adoption of html5 browsers if they ever decide which video formats to prioritise. Then there’s be no Flash at all.

  6. Ian: Flash is perfectly fine.


    It only seems fine if you use Windows, where it is one of many software technologies that break your computer ll the time. On my computers, it’s the only thing that regularly does not work perfectly .

    but the advantage was that I could create something in Flash and not have to worry about how it would look – it’d look exactly like it looks on my machine here.

    Which is why I don’t even look at flash-only web sites. High resolution moniters + morons designing flash web sites = I can’t see them.

    But seriously, I have no clue what you are saying regarding hardware. Why does flash need to know the processor it is working on????

  7. I had actually missed Megan’s comment until I saw Ray’s. Megan, normally I love your commentary but I want to ask you to refrain from being such a cyberbitch. Most people who already know all about Linux and stuff read other blogs to learn new things, and the Linux experts who read this blog often make very helpful comments for the less experienced people who are trying out the best operating system in the world. (even though it is not for everyone)

    The attitude you express in this comment is very typical of the “old days” (more than about two years ago?) when people who wanted to get into using Linux were often scared off or driven off by postnoobule hacker talk.

    We call those the “old days” because it is not so much how it is done now. Ignorance of Linux is not something to be disdained, it is something to be valued as this ignorance is a beautiful, empty vessel waiting to be filled with kernel talk and one liners.

    Perhaps you should cut back on your coffee intake for a couple of days…

  8. Worked in web development a while back – Java Beans were all the rage. Hated it. Code broke on every release of a new browser and was full of special cases.
    Give me good old C code and a simple, embedded OS for reliability. That said, working with Java EE now and really enjoying it.

  9. I’ve been working with Java since its 1.1 days. On the enterprise side it’s made some terrific strides (prior to EJB 3.0, EJBs sucked donkey balls). I never really got into the whole applet thing, and now AJAX seems to be filling the needs that Flash and applets used to be used for. Except for video embedding or little flash games. Although, my company is talking about adopting Adobe Flex (which is based on actionscript) as the standard web interface for it’s products, so I may get sucked down that hole. All in all, I prefer server-side code.

  10. Flash is not fine. Flash is part of the problem. I can watch a 720p movie on my netbook smooth as silk, but an “HD” you-tube video running through flash is a slideshow. Every video based website in the world seems to think you have to run videos through flash, and flash does not make use of native decoding systems. It makes hardware decoding completely pointless. This is a huge and horrible thing for a world that is aiming squarely at a video based internet (while still trying to provide affordable portable computers and low power draw).

    Unix/Linux: I cut my teeth working on SGI/Irix based machines ‘way back when.’ Moved on to Solaris when SUN had more floating point than anyone else could touch. I still have a warm fuzzy for straight DOS though, but certainly its use is limited.

    I think I need to redo my debian load. It’s been quirky.

    As for Greg being a “newb,” it hardly matters. This is a sort of political/opinion/anthro/anything-goes blog, most of the people here probably don’t have a lot of exposure. The rest of us, well, I actually enjoy the *nix topics, even if revel is pointing out the (often simple) windows equiv.

  11. I just turned off Flash in my browser — again — because when I tried to open my usual blog tabs this morning Flash froze up the whole kit and kaboodle — again. Exiting and restarting IE with Flash enabled it did it again, just as it has so many times. Turned it off, exited and restarted IE and opened the same tabs and zing! there they are, ready to immediately start scrolling and reading.

    Yeah, Flash is fine.

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