[Talk] Is AUUG too pro open source?

Steve Jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Mon Jan 19 16:18:32 EST 2004

After 25+ years of using Unix, I think AUUG is definitely on-track and
not overly promoting 'Open Source'.  It is our future - all those
teenager-geeks rebelling against the 'Evil Empires' (plural!) and
'Boldly Going Forth where No Other Geek Has Trod' (although much is
reinvention) are all leading to us, AUUG 'The society for Unix
Professionals': they will be working with a 'Unix' as professionals of
whatever specialisation.  They are learning what good systems look like
- Reliable, Available, Serviceable, Flexible, Scalable, Upgradeable -
and will insist on these properties in their work-places.

Proprietary systems will continue, especially in vertical or specialist
markets - and so they should.  I.T. firms are in _business_ - they
deserve to make a profit if they deliver real customer value.  SGI do a
great job at the high-end of the market.  To stay in business, they have
to make sufficient profit.  I do not begrudge them that, nor should
those benefiting from their toil.

In the long Unix Tradition of 'Don't bitch, Do it better', I encourage
any dis-satisfied members to come up with a plan and be prepared to
execute parts of it.

Unix has always been heavily Open Source oriented.  It's advancement has
been almost solely because of contributed work, not commercial
proprietary 'enhancements'.

The sharing of kernel work, bug fixes and useful utilities was strongly
established well before the CSRG was created at UCB and started the BSD
releases. [Computing Science Research Group at University of California
at Berkley released the Berkley System Distributions]

The 1980's explosion of the 68000 based 'YAFUB' systems and companies
were all BSD based, not System III.  [Yet Another Unix Box]

The 90's saw the Unix wars - System V ("consider it Standard") vs OSF
[Open Software Foundation?]  Lots of vendors fighting amongst themselves
and ignoring a common challenger - Windows New Technology [NT].  Who
remembers all the companies involved?  Sequent and others tried 
This faction-fighting was 'resolved' by System V Release 4 [SVR4] - the
BSD based SunOS was merged with System V.  But problems still continued
and SUN bought out their perpetual licence 'right to use' of SVR4 code
and 'forked' Solaris...  OSF also funded Stallmans' FSF [Free Software
Foundation] for the GNU re-implementation of the BSD tools.  [Can't
remember the SysV groups' name]

When old-SCO dropped the court case against BSD and the Unix trademark
was given to "The Open Group", it seemed sanity had prevailed.  The
current SCO vs IBM lawsuit shows that people are back in there sniffing
large sums of money to be had...  Fear and Greed are great motivators.

Whenever companies, including AT&T and the other 'System V' owners, have
acted, they have only acted in their own interest, not in the interests
of their customers or the whole Unix market.  The chief marketing focus
has been "Differentiation through Difference/Incompatibility".  So many
Unix vendors have made unnecessary and incompatible changes to their
systems - WITHOUT providing appreciable utility - that there is a whole
industry [and suite of tools like 'autoconf'] supporting Porting
programs across Unix systems.  To make a Unix program truly portable
means writing to a Lowest Common Denominator, obviating ALL those

Customers deeply object to having their choices constrained or removed
by vendors ['Lock-In'].  In _every_ case vendors have tried this on,
they have had customers revolt.  This is what almost ended IBM in
1990/91.  This is the backlash that Microsoft is now feeling.  People
like to feel they have made a free choice and are fairly treated by
their vendors.

This is the reason we're down to 4 big Unix vendors - SUN, HP, IBM,
Apple. [Don't know the SGI turnover].  The plethora of 'wanna be's have
gone away because they didn't provide real value to their clients.
DEC should've remained a major force in I.T. ...

ORACLE, love 'em or hate 'em, became the world's number two Software
company through a simple strategy - the SAME on every platform.  They
bet the company on portability, not performance, and succeeded

The only effective, sustainable marketing strategy is "Differentiation
through Specialisation".  That is, companies selling what they do best -
support, speed, price, mobility, security, peripheral variety,
robustness/reliability, ... - ON TOP OF A COMMON SYSTEM.  Why should the
System or User Interface be different??  This is no technical reason, so
why should the managers/marketers _make_ it different?

I object to GNU on many grounds - the viral licence, a focus on
'featurism' leading to bloat, incompatibility with preceding (BSD) tools
- BUT I use what they produce because it works and it is good enough...

The real benefit of GNU, Linux and *BSD is that NO ONE PERSON or GROUP
owns them.  They are a collective asset that can be built upon by all
and let us and our descendants 'stand on the shoulders of Giants'.

Steve Jenkin, 19-Jan-2004


The definitive Unix History is at: http://www.levenez.com/unix/ 
Warren Toomey, 'The Unix Heritage Society' http://www.tuhs.org
The Open Group: http://www.opengroup.org/

On Mon, 2004-01-19 at 12:10, Greg 'groggy' Lehey wrote:
> I've just had a complaint from a member who thinks that AUUG is giving
> users of proprietary UNIX a raw deal.  He thinks that we're placing
> too much emphasis on open source, and that we're bashing Microsoft.
> It's true that I personally don't have a very high opinion of
> Microsoft, and we have made no secret of the fact that the Linux
> community is a large part of our membership, so we need to cooperate
> with the other Linux groups.  I mentioned this in my report at the
> last annual conference.  I've also tried to make it clear that AUUG
> remains a UNIX group, for all reasonable definitions of UNIX.  I'd be
> interested if this member (who doesn't want to be named) is an
> isolated case, or do other members who use proprietary UNIX feel that
> we're giving them less than adequate attention?
> Greg
> --
> See complete headers for address and phone numbers.
Steve Jenkin, Unix Sys Admin
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

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