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Below are the 19 most recent journal entries recorded in Unix Historians' LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
11:00 am
About null pointers
Interesting quote from here:

The first two bytes of every VAX Unix program were zero (a register save mask saying not to save anything). As a result, a null all-zero pointer was always valid, and if a C program used a null value as a string pointer, the zero byte at location zero was treated as a null string. As a result, a generation of Unix programs in the 1980s contained hard-to-find bugs involving null pointers, and for many years, Unix ports to other architectures provided a zero byte at location zero because it was easier than finding and fixing all the null pointer bugs.
Friday, November 30th, 2007
10:45 am
c programming
I am learning c.

Why is c not used more on the web?

Anyone comment?

It seem if you built up many small programs to help you c would be great for the web.....

Current Mood: busy
Saturday, January 6th, 2007
10:57 am
For those interested in vintage computing, I put some rare DEC reference material that I found during a cleanup up on EBay. I'm more of a 3B2 gal when it comes to tinkering with the older stuff, so I will never use these, but they're invaluable for anyone who likes the old DEC machines. Auctions end next Thursday, go take a look.

Current Mood: mellow
Friday, August 25th, 2006
9:17 am
LSX images are available
I have received permission from Dr. Heinz Lycklama, the author of LSX, to release the disk images to the PDP-11 Unix Preservation Society archive. I have written to the maintainer of the archive, Dr. Warren Toomey; meanwhile, they are here: http://www.mailcom.com/lsx/
Thursday, August 24th, 2006
9:19 am
LSX is alive!!!

LSX - the smallest UNIX - is alive!!!

I have successfully recreated the correct contents of the LSX floppies - long feared lost - from incomplete octal dumps, and I now have the system working under the SIMH simulator. I am not sure about the copyright status of LSX vs Mini-Unix that is currently released, so I'll refrain from publishing the floppy images for now.

Here's how it works: Read more...Collapse )
Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006
11:54 pm
2.11BSD alive
I successfully installed 2.11BSD on PDP-11/44 using SIMH emulator. You can give it a try: just download a disk image and run SIMH with it.
Friday, October 7th, 2005
5:25 pm
Is it true that most admins or roots prefer dark beer or even stouts?
I like Guinness myself.
Saturday, May 21st, 2005
10:46 am
Has anyone got an LSX distribution?

I am trying to find the smallest UNIX there was - LSX - that used 8 kb for the kernel and 12 kb for the user space, according to
http://minnie.tuhs.org/pipermail/pups/2001-March/000273.html . So far I was able to find Mini-UNIX that uses 12 and 16 kb respectively, but it would be nice to find the record-holder and to make it available.  Does anyone have any pointers? (I've contacted the author, Dr. Lycklama. He does not have it).
Saturday, June 19th, 2004
4:01 pm
To good to be true...
One item I've been hooked on lately is trying to find my own copy of Lion's Commentary on UNIX. Paydirt.

I found a post script copy of it online. I guess I'll be like all the other hackers of old and just print my copy.

The page I found it from:


The actual post script file of the book:

Sunday, June 13th, 2004
11:28 pm
Be sure to update your systems...
...if anyone here is running any hardware that's significantly older than what I've got in my closet, and for some reason you couldn't give up the UNIX you had back in the day, well, remember to update your machines...

'cause somebody reported a Seventh Edition bug last Monday, if I'm to believe the timestamp on this.


Monday, May 24th, 2004
1:33 pm
Saturday, February 21st, 2004
9:34 pm
Source Code...
I was wondering where (if possible) I could get a look at the source code of the common Unix comands (ls, cd, etc etc...). Thanks :)
Saturday, November 29th, 2003
3:46 pm
This isn't related to the big-picture of UNIX history, but it is UNIX related and something that's bugged me for many years, and someday I hope to understand why it was done.

All of the signals (see signal(7)) make sense to me as signals. But there's one, and it's a really old one as far as I know, that makes far less sense than the others: SIGPIPE. Why is this i/o condition so important that, by default, programs need to die because of it? It feels like there was a race condition in some code somewhere (probably in a shell) that was easier to solve with a terminating signal than by more robust coding. It's also redundant, as the write() will fail with EPIPE.

So, anyone know the story behind SIGPIPE? (A google for "SIGPIPE history" results in the change logs for hundreds of programs with SIGPIPE-related bugs, most of which used the fix of "ignore SIGPIPE".)
Saturday, April 26th, 2003
11:03 pm
Ever wanted to play with VMS?
A friend of mine pointed me to this website, you can telnet into there OpenVMS cluster, sign up for a free account, and then play around on an OpenVMS system.


It's worth noting that VMS isn't a UNIX and the command line interface is different. Some reading on the website is necessary in order to begin to get around. Something interesting I guess... -- Raffi
Wednesday, December 18th, 2002
12:26 pm
Just ran across what IMO is one of the best "history of NeXT-Mac OS X" articles
I've seen. I'm a big fan of NeXT and I've read lots and lots of this stuff.

Something you may enjoy.

Friday, August 30th, 2002
2:58 pm

A good website for those interested in lisp, language design, or some decent commentary (though I disagree with his sentiments about Java).

This guy started the company Viaweb, wrote some LISP textbooks (one of them was used in a programming languages classes I took), and he just has some great articles.

I've been getting into language design and lisp was one of the key things that got me into it and helped me look at the problem of designing a language differently.

Just wanted to post it, I've been feeding off of different parts of the site for the past week and I've enjoyed it.
Tuesday, August 20th, 2002
9:42 pm
Java Origins

Saw this one linked to from javalobby.org. Good stuff if your interested in Sun, Java, NeWS or just *cough* UNIX history. The author of this article is also the same guy that wrote xlock. Worth a read.
Monday, April 22nd, 2002
12:21 pm
hi, new to the community...
not as well versed in *nix history as many of you probably are, but i think this is a cool community thus here i am..

on a side note i bought a little p100 the other day from goodwill, it has a huge 'yes it runs netware' sticker on it (those stickers make me laugh) and surprisingly several nics, a 40 meg hdd, and it looks like it used to have several hard drives, the original name and ip is still on the box on the top (voyager and im not sure off the top of my head), but i was happy when i booted it up in goodwill and found it running fbsd 4.1.x
Thursday, March 28th, 2002
3:59 am

Biff, according to Peter Salus (A Quarter Century of UNIX):

  • Was the dog belonging to Heidi Stettner, a graduate student in Evans Hall at Berkeley
  • Would often accompany Heidi to her classes and her office
  • Was very friendly and would enjoy fetching balls the students would throw down the corridors
  • Had his picture on the bulletin board with the graduate students, with the accompanying legend indicating he was working on his Ph.Dog.
  • Was the nomenclature origin of the asynchronous mail notification package biff(1) appearing in 4.0BSD, written by John Federero, another grad student at Berkeley. John, along with Bill Joy, spent much time coming up with an explanation for biff, and came up with "Be notified if mail arrives" (although I've also heard feebdaed once tell me that it can mean "Bark if From found").
  • Once got a B in a compiler class.
  • Did not bark at the mailman. Heidi indicated this to be a "scurrilous canard."
  • Died in August 1993, at the age of 15, according to Salus and both the FreeBSD and OpenBSD manpages.

According to Melinda Shore in this Usenet article, Biff actually owned Heidi Stettner, although by that point he was 13 years old and one leg was mostly gone.

According to Steven Sargent in this Usenet article, Biff's full name was Bifford Studworth III. He would ride the Evans Hall elevators and would attend database seminars.

I don't know how important Biff is to Unix history, but I thought he was cool. =)

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