At the OpenForum ’92 event in Utrecht, Unix System Laboratories Inc chief executive Roel Pieper reacted strongly to claims by SunSoft Inc European general manager Peter Watkins that Sun had developed up to 80% of the Unix System V.4 operating system (CI No 2,051). It is more like 20% of System V.4.0, but only 5% […]
At the OpenForum ’92 event in Utrecht, Unix System Laboratories Inc chief executive Roel Pieper reacted strongly to claims by SunSoft Inc European general manager Peter Watkins that Sun had developed up to 80% of the Unix System V.4 operating system (CI No 2,051). It is more like 20% of System V.4.0, but only 5% of where we are now, he said. Pieper warned that some open vendors were now beginning to backtrack and introduce non-standard elements into their product offerings, in an attempt to lock in their customer bases. He pointed to Unix International as a forum for limiting the damage caused by arguments over technology, and said that the Unix International RoadMap of future Unix developments would be broadened to encompass technology from other member companies aside from Unix Labs itself: It’ll help keep them honest. Pieper is also looking to achieve a generic Unix brand for all Unix vendors. The industry has caused the perception of Unix fragmentation itself, yet it takes only days or a week to convert between an IBM and Hewlett machine. Pieper also promised delegates at OpenForum that the first wave of systems management tools and utilities for System V.4 would be out in the first quarter.
Unix Wars never happened
In what seems like a big compliment to our powers of imagination, Unix Labs chief Roel Pieper and Chuck Reilly, vice-president of operations at the Open Software Foundation have also been re-writing history, claiming at Utrecht that the press made up the entire Unix Wars all by themselves: they never happened pleaded Reilly, who didn’t join the Foundation until 1989, after some of the worst was over. Anyway, Unix now faces a much tougher fight for survival against Microsoft Corp or are we imagining things? A determined outbreak of agreement between Pieper and Reilly during their combined keynote address led Hans Strach-Zimmerman of Grassbrun, Munich-based iXos GmbH to ask if plans for a merger were back on again: The reasons for a merger three or four years ago are now history, they said: we both have our own programmes working in parallel. Despite a great deal of talk about the Foundation moving emphasis away from operating systems towards its Distributed Computing and Distributed Management Environments, DCE and DME, Reilly claimed that the number of OSF/1 binaries shipped this year – set at 100,000 – would be doubled next year. While Digital Equipment Corp is the only company currently using the Foundation’s integrated kernel, IBM Corp and Hewlett-Packard Co are shipping the OSF/1 commands and library set, which Reilly says makes up 75% to 85% of the whole. As for the microkernel system, IBM recently demonstrated the multiple personality concept at Comdex, running OSF/1 and OS/2 concurrently on a PS/2 on top of the Mach kernel. Reilly insists that the future Mach 3-based OSF 1.3 operating system is not simply a research product, but will be on the market in two years’ time, providing support for multiple personalities, real-time working, B3 security and clustering of distributed systems. That again leaves two contenders for the microkernel operating systems business – the Foundation’s Mach-based work and Unix Labs’ technology from its Paris-based partner Chorus Systemes SA. While Chorus is signing up some impressive allies, including the Santa Cruz Operation Inc, Tandem Computers Ltd, ICL Plc and Inmos Ltd, Carnegie-Mellon’s Mach has found favour with the US defence industry. Roel Pieper says there’s room for both efforts, with Unix Labs more interested in the fault-tolerance and distributed computing aspects of microkernels rather than the Foundation’s emphasis on multiple personalities, especially attractive to the Foundation partners with numerous legacy operating systems. But Pieper claims it won’t matter which microkernel underlies Unix just so long as all the standard interfaces are observed. – John Abbott