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The NSE was Suns attempt at a grand SCM system and it was miserably slow (single threaded fuse like COW file system implemented in user space). I did performance work back then, sort of a jack of all trades (filesystem, vm system, networking, you name it) so Sun asked me to look at it. I did and recoiled in horror, it wasn't well thought out for performance.

My buddies in the kernel group were actually starting to quit because they were forced to use the NSE and it made them dramatically less productive. Nerds hate being slowed down.

Once the whole SCM thing crossed my radar screen I was hooked. Someone had a design for how you could have two SCCS files with a common ancestry and they could be put back together. I wrote something called smoosh that basically zippered them together.

Nobody cared. So I looked harder at the NSE and realized it was SCCS under the covers. I built a pile of perl that gave birth to the clone/pull/push model (though I bundled all of that into one command called resync). It wasn't truly distributed in that the "protocol" was NFS, I just didn't do that part, but the model was the git model you are used to now minus changesets.

I made all that work with the NSE, you could bridge in and out and one by one the kernel guys gave up on NSE and moved to nselite. This was during the Solaris 5.0 bringup.

I still have the readme here: http://mcvoy.com/lm/nselite/README and here are some stats from the 2000th resync inside of Sun: http://mcvoy.com/lm/nselite/2000.txt

I was forced to stop developing nselite by the VP of the tools group because by this time Sun knew that nselite won and NSE lost so they ramped up a 8 person team to rewrite my perl in C++ (Evan later wrote a paper basically saying that was an awful idea). They took smoosh.c and never modified it, just stripped my history off (yeah, some bad blood).

Their stuff wasn't ready so I kept working but that made them look bad, one guy with some perl scripts outpacing 8 people with a supposedly better language. So their VP came over and said "Larry, this went all the way up to Scooter, if you do one more release you're fired" and set back SCM development almost a decade, that was ~1991 and I didn't start BitKeeper until 1998. There is no doubt in my mind that if they had left me alone they would have the first DVCS.

Fun times, I went off and did clusters in the hardware part of the company.

Wow, jackpot -- thank you! That 2000th resync is a who's who of Sun's old guard; many great technologies have been invented and many terrific companies built by the folks on that list! I would love to see the nselite man pages that the README refers to (i.e., resync(1) and resolve(1)); do you happen to still have those?

Also, even if privately... you need to name that VP. ;)

There used to be a paper on smoosh here: http://www.bitmover.com/lm/papers/smoosh.ps but it's gone now. Do you mind putting it back? I'd like to read it again.

You weren't the only one to do SCCS over NFS. The real-time computer division of Harris did it too. That version control system was already considered strange and old by 2004 when I encountered it.

1 man using perl can outpace 8 on C++. Who would've thought? /sarcasm. But seriously, I think this is one of the classic instances of what is now quite common knowledge about dynamic scripting languages: They let you get things done MUCH faster. I think the tools group learned the wrong lesson from this, but OTOH, who would want to start developing all of their new software in perl? And given that python hadn't caught on yet, there really wasn't much else out there in the field.

> there really wasn't much else out there in the field.

What about shell scripts?

Shell scripts are even more miserable to write than perl, and are missing a lot of features you want for most applications


Firstly, the mention of LISP would have probably sent most of Sun screaming and running for the hills at the time. Secondly, LISP has never been very good at OS integration, one of the most important things for many software projects.

>> Evan later wrote a paper basically saying that was an awful idea

Is this paper available online? Thanks.


And for the record, Evan was somewhat justified in not saying I had anything to do with Teamware since I made his team look like idiots, ran circles around them. On the other hand, taking smoosh.c and removing my name from the history was dishonest and a douche move. Especially since not one person on that team was capable of rewriting it.

The fact remains that Teamware is just a productized version of NSElite which was written entirely by me.

If I sound grumpy, I am. Politics shouldn't mess with history but they always do.

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