AT&T Co and the Open Software Foundation alternative Unix club were moving to a rapprochement that would enable AT&T to become a sponsor of the Foundation should it choose to do so. We understand that AT&T made a serious offer last week to relax restrictions on access to its technology, on condition that the Foundation […]
AT&T Co and the Open Software Foundation alternative Unix club were moving to a rapprochement that would enable AT&T to become a sponsor of the Foundation should it choose to do so. We understand that AT&T made a serious offer last week to relax restrictions on access to its technology, on condition that the Foundation agreed to adopt AT&T technology, in particular the System V kernel, although it is not clear whether this refers to the V.4 or the V.3 version. Sources suggest that the two sides have already reached consensus on many aspects of Unix development: the key point outstanding is said to concern whose kernel is to be used. Current Foundation plans are for a future version of IBM’s AIX to be the basis of the Open operating system: this version is said to incorporate V.2 and V.3 features but to steer clear of AT&T extensions that, coupled with AT&T’s licensing policy – which could now open up – angered manufacturers back when V.3 was released. This may remain a considerable sticking point for any attempts by AT&T to get its System V kernel adopted by the Foundation, but, on the other hand, just about every serious RISC and complex instruction set microprocessor runs AT&T Unix now, which has to make it easier to extend the operating system for those processors by using Foundation features built on an AT&T kernel than to try extracting all or part of a product built on an as-yet undelivered drastically rewritten AIX product. Moreover the other sponsors of the Foundation, many of whom are critically dependent on Unix for key parts of their product line, will have felt a frisson of alarm at IBM’s announcement last week that AIX for the PS/2 will be six months late (CI No 1,030), and may well find the prospect of having to wait for IBM to complete the next release of AIX before the Foundation can really move forward a worrying one. As for AT&T, since the departure of Vittorio Cassoni from AT&T Data Systems, the organisation under his successor Robert Kavner and the organisation seem to have completely changed their attitude and appear likely to consider almost anything that is needed to heal the schism in the Unix world. In a related matter, AT&T last week again flatly denied the industry gossip that it plans to use the Motorola 88000 RISC in its next generation machines, and notes that its original intention to add Sun Sparc-based products in 1989 is unchanged.