[Beowulf] Joe Blaylock's notes on running a MacOS cluster, Nov. 2007

Peter St. John peter.st.john at gmail.com
Fri Nov 23 08:48:46 PST 2007

Microport, with a team of 4 programmers, ported a licensed AT&T System
V to the i286 and sold it for about $100 starting in 1985, when SCO
"Xenix" was like $500. I was a customer. They went bankrupt later but
to some extent paved the way for unix on PCs on the cheap.
Wiki is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microport
I remember I had to buy a HD (40MB, 40 ms) for my IBM AT to install;
it came as a bunch of 5.25" floppies. It booted easily with 512K (the
PC and XT were 640 but the AT was base only 512) but "vi temp" hung
:-) so I had to get more RAM. When I booted DOS 3.2 I used RAM over
640K as a virtual disk (as one might do today with RAM over 2.5 GB on
XP?) but used all 1.5 MB naturally with the unix (making it clear to
me, btw, that the "640K RAM Barrier" was MS's fault, not Intel's).
A big difficulty would be customer support, I should think; I never
expected any (I still generally don't), but it would be much easier to
have no support for DOS, than to have no support for Unix, for Joe
Average Customer.

On Nov 22, 2007 5:13 AM, Geoff <geoff at galitz.org> wrote:
> I guess we are getting way off-topic, but I still have to plug-in with one
> more observation:
> I worked for SCO for 7 years prior to the Caldera buyout which resulted in
> "The Dark Time" and SCO's transformation into the "The SCO Group" and it's
> litigous ways.  There were a number of vendors developing and selling UNIX
> in various flavors for implementation on off the shelf hardware.  SCO and
> ISC being the two largest and more successful.
> As far as I can tell selling those packages for $50 was just not
> cost-effective.  SCO UNIX cost approx $300 at that time though it could be
> had for steep discounts.  The company was doing pretty well but found that
> supporting a wider array of hardware and the need for customer tech
> support was driving the cost up.  Eventually those two functions were
> turned into revenue generators, meaning customers had to pay for tech
> support per call or buy a contract and hardware vendors could pay for
> preferential development support (which most of the large hardware vendors
> like Compaq, Dell, IBM and HP did).
> Those were busieness trends and not technical issues and that seems to be
> what kills a lot of tech busiesnesses.  They do not make the transition
>  from small development shop to mid sized tech busieness to large
> technology busieness well, making bad busieness decisions along the way.
> Charging a premium for support and development at the very time the *BSDs,
> Linux and the lower cost Windows NT became available was a bad idea and
> came about at a bad time.
> IOW, $50 a seat for a *NIX with commerical support and backing was not
> technically or economically feasible.  SCO was huge in the database  on
> i386 market at that time and also in control systems (for things like
> power plants) and that requires a lot of work to support on the developer
> side.  The free OSs have matured since then now the market has changed.
> -geoff
> Am 21.11.2007, 22:45 Uhr, schrieb Greg Lindahl <lindahl at pbm.com>:
> > On Wed, Nov 21, 2007 at 02:48:48PM -0500, Robert G. Brown wrote:
> >
> >> But what if they'd STARTED by selling NeXTStep as a Unix for PCs back
> >> before Linux was really born, for $50 a seat.  OS/2 and Windows BOTH
> >> would have been stillborn, and Jobs would be Gates today.
> >
> > Dude, at some point your "hey, this is really off-topic, and do people
> > really want to hear my crazy what-if theories anyway?" should kick
> > in. Right?
> >
> > -- greg
> >
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> --
> -------------------------------
> Geoff Galitz, geoff at galitz.org
> Blankenheim, Deutschland
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