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Unix: A History and a Memoir, by Brian Kernighan (amazon.com)
123 points by fjarlq 29 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments



Zero mentions of Solaris. Surprising. BSD, Minix and Linux are mentioned. Even Santa Cruz Operation is mentioned. Bill Joy and Sun Microsystems are mentioned. Solaris was the most influential Unix of the 90’s so its omission is curious.


>Solaris was the most influential Unix of the 90’s so its omission is curious.

I think you meant 2000s because in the 90s Solaris was nothing special. All the interesting stuff (zones, SMF, dtrace, ZFS) was introduced in Solaris 10, which was released in 2005.


No I meant the 90’s. Solaris was the top platform for dotcom startups in the 90’s. By 2001-2002 the dotcom crash had happened. By the time the “interesting stuff” you mention were added, Solaris was waning in popularity.


True enough. But when it was big, it was nothing special. 2.2 (2, in the final number scheme) was pretty crashy. One would not expect a Bell Labs person to find a SysV variant interesting.

As I recall, solarix had Doors by 2001, but I can't remember what it was.

Solarix probably deserves mention if Tru64 nee OSF/1 did. Ah, the Unix Wars: Sunview vs. Motif, buggy vs. ugly.


Windows 95 was buggy too, but a history of OSes would be silly to leave it out


Buggy and ugly. But not Unix.


I wish I could see memoirs like this from Ken Thompson and Rob Pike.


Videos of Ken Thompson and Rob Pike telling Unix history stories:

Ken Thompson (interviewed by Brian Kernighan, 2019, starts after 7m38s): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY6q5dv_B-o#t=7m38s

Rob Pike (Unix History presentation, 2018, starts after 3m40s): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2NI6t2r_Hs#t=3m40s


Thank you soooo much for posting the links to these. I'm just starting to dive in to the Thompson interview and it's amazing.

I strongly recommend anyone with even a vague interest in UNIX (well, obviously that would be everyone reading this HN thread) to watch these!


Ken Thompson interviewed by Kernighan is a real treat. I love this interview.


Rummaging around the local mall bookstore in ~1982, I came upon 'Software Tools in Pascal', by Kernighan and Plaugher. I fell in love with the ideas, and the prose. It became the first of what is now a nearly complete collection of everything Kernighan has published (I don't have the AMPL book, or 'D for Digital'.) I can't calculate how much I know because of Dr. Kernighan, or how much my career's course has been altered by the levers he's given me, but it's a large number.

This is now on my Amazon wish list (How many of you have private lists for 'things to remember and check out later?' Mine's called 'Random Followup Stuff')


You might find this interesting, then: http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/cs655/readings/bwk-on-pasc...

It's Kernighan's view of Pascal after writing "Software Tools in Pascal". It's not (as widely perceived) a hit piece on Pascal. It's Kernighan saying "I wrote the original 'Software Tools' in Ratfor. Rewriting it in Pascal should have been much easier than it was. Why?"


I know the piece well. Back when, my university used "Oh, Pascal!" to teach introductory programming to programmers. For worse reasons than Kernighan, I never liked that the length of an array was part of the type in Pascal, but, in retrospect, that might've saved a couple Trillion in buffer overflow problems.


At the price of being fundamentally unable to deal with variable-length arrays? That seems like taking away a rather fundamental ability.


Amazon is returning a 404 on this item for me, when this post is 6 hours old. Googling for the book and following amazon.com links gives similar 404 errors.


Weird, URL is https://www.amazon.com/dp/1695978552 which loads for me.


Interesting, it opened the Amazon page for me without issue...


I ordered a copy just now, but was somewhat disappointed that it didn't ship in tape format.


It's a long-proved bound paper-tape format.


Copyright 2020. Spooky.


When I was a teenager, I bought a book from a bookstore that had a copyright date or printing date a month in the future. I was surprised that the date included the month, and realized the page has been laid out weeks in advance. But even so, it felt weird to own that book for that first month.


$su date 010112012020




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