X

UNIX, circa 1984

I recently ran across Xhomer, a simulator for the
DEC Pro 350. While there are several
historic machine simulators
out there, Xhomer is polished: it compiled and ran on my Opteron laptop running Solaris 10 with no difficulties.
But best of all, Xhomer includes system software: you can download a disk image of VENIX 2.0 -- a "real-time" UNIX variant
from VenturCom. Here's a screenshot of me logging in.

While I had heard of VENIX (a System III derivative), I had never used it before today. (And nor, presumably, have the
good folks at pharmanex.)
In using it, it's clear that VENIX had some BSD influence: VENIX 2.0 includes both
csh (blech) and
vi (phew).
Using a twenty year old UNIX is a strange experience: I'm amazed at how little the most basic things have
changed. There was very little that I didn't recognize ("em1" anyone?), and I was familiar with all of the tools necessary to
write a program (vi),
compile it (cc) and debug it
(adb). Using the latter of these was the most amusing; here's a screenshot of me using
adb
.

Compare this output with the
output of "$a" on
adb, and you'll see why this got me excited.
(And then try "$a" on
mdb for our warped idea of an easter egg.)
It should go without saying that I looked (so far in vain) for an Algol 68 compiler on this system. Seeing adb spit out
a true Algol stack backtrace would be like sipping from the debugging fountain of youth...

While it's amazing how familiar VENIX feels, I'm also stunned by how anemic its facilites are:
it has no TCP/IP stack, no
real filesystem, no multiple processor support, no resource management,
no dynamic linking, no real virtual memory system, no observability and poor debuggability. It reminds me how far we have come --
even before we embarked on the far more radical technologies found in
Solaris 10...

Now, does anyone know of a Language H compiler for the PDP-11?

OBEY

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Comments ( 3 )
  • David Oppenheimer Thursday, November 25, 2004
    "I'm also stunned by how anemic its facilites are: it has no TCP/IP stack, no real filesystem, no multiple processor support, no resource management, no dynamic linking, no real virtual memory system, no observability and poor debuggability. It reminds me how far we have come [...]"
    Actually, didn't Multics have half or more of those things by the end of the 1960's? Relative to your description of VENIX it does sound like we've come a long way, but in the grand scheme of OS ideas, I'm not as sure...
  • ozan yigit Thursday, November 25, 2004
    phew, this brings back memories. i actually owned and ran a dec pro 350 (<em>my personal pdp-11</em>) with venix for many years as my home ack/development machine (editing with split i/d version of jove, and networking with kermit :) for lisp and scheme (psi) work; i think i finally discarded it around early nineties,still functional. venix worked just fine, but i always regretted not running bsd/11 on that
    pro/350.
  • Alan Hargreaves Thursday, November 25, 2004

    I adminned an 11/45 and a PE32220 (first no-dec port of unix). I believe that internally (at Sun) we have a copy of the v7 code hanging around. Wouldn't be interesting to actually get a true v7 running :)

    The real interesting thing would then bee getting the Sydney Uni stuff in there and turn it into an AUSAM/AUSAS.

    Ahhh Edition VII, those were simpler days.

    Alan.

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