Dum Pendebat Filius

A sniff in the kortevar, that what you cry for, yeled? A prert up the cull, a prang on the dumpendebat?

The unity of Unix

Paul Murphy, in ZDNet, has written an article arguing for the essential unity of all Unix-like operating systems. You know what? He’s right.

Although many people claim that Linux is well on its way to replacing Unix, the reality is that Linux is Unix: a particular stream within a much wider community whose traditions and ideas both surround and extend those found in the Linux group.

Look carefully at the history of Unix and what you see is a core set of ideas worked out in many different ways by many different people. Unix detractors invariably talk about the fracturing of Unix and refer disparagingly to what they call the “Unix wars” of the 1980s, but in reality even the most widely divergent Unix products generally differed in implementation detail and hardware support, not in concept.

To me, this is so self-evidently and obviously true that I don’t see how anyone could disagree with it; but (of course) it provoked a ridiculous flame war at OSNews. Some commenters, unable to see the proverbial forest because of all the trees blocking their view, in their absolute religious thrall to the ineffable holiness of the GPL, argued passionately that “Unix” is “closed” and “proprietary,” and say they want nothing to do with it. This reflexive Animal Farm-style argument (GPL good, proprietary bad!) gets in the way of every discussion on this subject, and it’s the fault of the Linux zealots. Yes, I blame them. The Linux zealots are the worst thing about Linux. (And if you want to see some real mind-numbing dementia, look for a Linux-distribution flame war: Slackware sucks! No, Gentoo sucks! Mandrake rocks! Debian sucks!)

I like Linux a lot. I also like Solaris. I like HP-UX. I like FreeBSD. And I bet you if I had to manage an IBM server, I’d learn to like AIX. From a system administrator’s perspective, guess what? They’re all Unix.

Filed under: Tech by dumpendebat at 2005/08/01 - 19:26

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