everything wrong with free software
"free as in speech"
*originally posted:* oct 2021
you cannot talk about the origins of unix and avoid at&t altogether. this is unfortunate, but factual. i am no fan of at&t, i think theyre one of the worst companies in the history of civilisation-- i would compare it to being a fan of nasa, despite some of its more unpleasant origins. you may do something to determine your own path in life, but you still cannot choose your parents (or grandparents). at any rate, i am more interested in understanding the true origins of the things we care about, than i am in a direct lineage to those origins.
whether im a true fan of unix or not is a debate youre welcome to have without me. i think the origins are relevant, important, and may help put gnu (or similar endeavours) in better context. if you want to know what gnu started with, it started with unix-- as a design, as a goal, as an api.
of course this is not because stallman was (ever) a unix fan or cared about unix, it was simply a tool he picked up for writing a free operating system. he explicitly denies caring about unix prior to that, or any "unix philosophy" after the fact. which i think is a bit of a shame, as modularity could certainly take a little more priority in the gnu system (for the sake of self-preservation). alas, ive found no evidence that gnu cares about that, but it did do as much or more than any other operating system to ensure that code is freely licensed (followed most likely by 4bsd, then later openbsd).
whether or not i am a unix fan (its not something i strongly identify with) i deplore at&t, i happen to be a ksh fan for certain (but its whatever ksh comes with openbsd, i believe pdksh) i think without this history we may (as gnu did) miss something important.
besides that, uncovering the lies and misdirection of "open source" is what really kicked my interest in computing history into another gear entirely, and history is ammunition (both for and against) the fight for truth and understanding. the rest is up to us.
Mark Allen - Before Unix: An Early History of Timesharing Systems
(mentioned in previous video)
J. C. R. Licklider: Man-Computer Symbiosis
(shown partially/mentioned in previous video)
1963 Timesharing: A Solution to Computer Bottlenecks
7th Edition Unix at 40 by Warner Losh
(47:50 how void got into c)
Stephen Bourne: Early days of Unix and design of sh
A Narrative History of BSD
Computer Science - Brian Kernighan on successful language design
about video: i like written works, but where there is video there is sometimes no substitute for hearing stories from the people themselves. there are also sound recordings, but i find video helps draw my focus in for longer talks.
by no means is youtube an ideal host, ia is at least less prone to deletion and muckrights will preserve snippets of video, but for long talks and more detail, there are not a lot of great options.
you might think this doesnt belong here, and perhaps at some point it will move-- however, one of the main purposes of this page is to provide information for people creating or forking unixy operating systems, and it would be remiss to leave openbsd out of that discussion.
you have every right to react to me posting a video from oreilly, of all possible hosts. i chose the video based on its contents and the person who did the presentation, the venue itself is unfortunate. for historical information to be certain, the venue will not always be one i favour.
Beyond Security: Getting to Know OpenBSD's Real Purpose - O'Reilly Webcast