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The Evolution of Operating Systems (2000) [pdf] (brinch-hansen.net)
101 points by rspivak 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments

This stuff is really rare. And the reason why is explicated in a quote in the batch systems section:

First, these systems were "obvious" and could be understood in minutes from reading a manual. Second, there were very few different kinds of computers, and the community of system programmers was similarly small. At least in the United States, almost everyone who wanted to know about these systems could and did communicate directly with their authors.

One gets the sense that few anticipated there would one day be a computer in every home ;)

The paper dates from the time right as the PC was becoming affordable, too. A version for the following 20 years would be interesting. Ie the last 18 years and what’s likely to come in the next 2. If the economy tanks, then the OS landscape will probably stagnate. And we’ll probably see the first exascale supercomputers.

This talks about good reliability of the RC 4000 software. I used an RC 4000 -- which seemed pretty steam-driven in the '80s -- and the immortalized phrase quite heard often enough from our Danish colleagues was "Ze compuder ish all schrewed upp". (Pardon the accent.) As far as I remember that was typically software rather than hardware, and I wonder why the discrepancy.

Anyhow, back home, our GEC 4000s¹ were fast and pretty reliable, running the OS4000 operating system. I've never confirmed it, but I assume "4000" was a tribute to RC 4000, given its similar software design and terminology, though Nucleus, (the moral equivalent of?) the microkernel, was in hardware/firmware. It's an interesting counterpoint to the RC 4000 monitor generally described as slow. As the GEC 4000 architecture was later emulated decently fast on M88000s, the speed wasn't just down to the original hardware; such 1970s microkernel-ish designs could work well. Skål PBH.

1, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GEC_4000_series

Although I loved this paper, he isn't fair to MULTICS in it. MULTICS had a nice, feature set:


After Karger et al pentested it...


...it also got a security upgrade. Its security profile was stronger than most other OS's. Although mostly a flop, its combo of features and security did cause some organizations to buy it. The last one shut down in year 2000. It was just too expensive ($7+ mil?) to justify in a market that, at the time, mostly cared about performance per dollar with security and maintenance activities a non-concern. On other hand, Burroughs B5000 and System/38 (later AS/400) were reliability/maintainability-focused products from that era that did manage to survive to present day.

A classical worse is better.

What I liked to see in updates are secure and fast microkernels (L3,L4) and secure nonblocking parallelism (Singularity) in a secure language.

I think you'd really enjoy Joe Duffy's Midori blogs then http://joeduffyblog.com/2015/11/03/blogging-about-midori/

Sure, that's what I meant.

Redox, then? ;)

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