Unix History Repository

Evolution of unix-history-repo (Gource Visualization) video shows how the UNIX operating system was born and how it matured over time. The video is based on this GitHub repository, which combines the following:

The project has achieved its major goal with the establishment of a continuous timeline from 1970 until today. The repository contains:
– snapshots of PDP-7, V1, V2, V3, V4, V5, V6, and V7 Research Edition,
– Unix/32V,
– all available BSD releases,
– the CSRG SCCS history,
– two releases of 386BSD,
– the 386BSD patchkit,
– the FreeBSD 1.0 to 1.1.5 CVS history,
– an import of the FreeBSD repository starting from its initial imports that led to FreeBSD 2.0, and
– the current FreeBSD repository.
The files appear to be added in the repository in chronological order according to their modification time, and large parts of the source code have been attributed to their actual authors.

This is mind-blowing! So much work, so many people, so little recognition. The world wouldn’t be the same without all that, and yet the masses think that Steve Jobs or Bill Gates were the greatest computer geniuses in the history of mankind. Sad…

But the video is beautiful. It desperately needs some music though.

Understanding disk usage in Linux


Understanding disk usage in Linux” is a well written in-depth look into the Linux filesystem layer and how things work under the hood.  This is probably not something most people would have to deal on a day-to-day basis, but it is very useful for anyone doing system administration and looking for the better understanding of operating systems.

htop explained


htop explained” is a very detailed guide into the htop Linux system monitoring tool.  Even if you are an experienced Linux user, and even if you are not a fan of htop (why aren’t you?), you will still find this guide useful, as it goes into a lot of detail on how htop figures out all the values and where Linux keeps bits and pieces of system information.

The sudden death and eternal life of Solaris


Bryan Cantrill wrote this blog post on the death of Solaris.  Here’s a bit like the most about it, which talks about the proprietary software vs. Open Source:

Assuming that this is indeed the end of Solaris (and it certainly looks that way), it offers a time for reflection. Certainly, the demise of Solaris is at one level not surprising, but on the other hand, its very suddenness highlights the degree to which proprietary software can suffer by the vicissitudes of corporate capriciousness. Vulnerable to executive whims, shareholder demands, and a fickle public, organizations can simply change direction by fiat. And because — in the words of the late, great Roger Faulkner — “it is easier to destroy than to create,” these changes in direction can have lasting effect when they mean stopping (or even suspending!) work on a project. Indeed, any engineer in any domain with sufficient longevity will have one (or many!) stories of exciting projects being cancelled by foolhardy and myopic management. For software, though, these cancellations can be particularly gutting because (in the proprietary world, anyway) so many of the details of software are carefully hidden from the users of the product — and much of the innovation of a cancelled software project will likely die with the project, living only in the oral tradition of the engineers who knew it. Worse, in the long run — to paraphrase Keynes — proprietary software projects are all dead. However ubiquitous at their height, this lonely fate awaits all proprietary software.

There is, of course, another way — and befitting its idiosyncratic life and death, Solaris shows us this path too: software can be open source. In stark contrast to proprietary software, open source does not — cannot, even — die. Yes, it can be disused or rusty or fusty, but as long as anyone is interested in it at all, it lives and breathes. Even should the interest wane to nothing, open source software survives still: its life as machine may be suspended, but it becomes as literature, waiting to be discovered by a future generation. That is, while proprietary software can die in an instant, open source software perpetually endures by its nature — and thrives by the strength of its communities. Just as the existence of proprietary software can be surprisingly brittle, open source communities can be crazily robust: they can survive neglect, derision, dissent — even sabotage.

Optimizing web servers for high throughput and low latency


Dropbox Tech Blog has this in-depth article on “Optimizing web servers for high throughput and low latency“.  It goes over everything from hardware and low level operating system stuff all the way up to the application level.

Great job, guys!