Ethan Dicks ethan.dicks at gmail.com
Fri Aug 20 14:46:58 CDT 2021

On Fri, Aug 20, 2021 at 1:14 PM Bill Gunshannon via cctalk
<cctalk at classiccmp.org> wrote:
> > http://ftp.fibranet.cat/UnixArchive/Distributions/DEC/Fred-Ultrix3/setup-3.1.txt
> >
> > I've installed older versions of UNIX where you had to explicitly set
> > up disks and partitions (where you _could_ resize partitions).  Prior
> > to restoring the contents from tape.  That didn't appear to be as easy
> > with this installer script.
> I think the intent of the Ultrix-11 3,x install is to make it as
> simple as possible to get a system up and running on the hardware
> available in the day and then with time and experience one could
> create more advanced systems.

Yes.  I was around in this era and learning to do a from-scratch
install was an ordeal.  DEC did package things up with a set of
questions (vs knowing which lines of which files had to be
hand-edited) and incorporated all the supported disks and tapes and
serial muxes, etc.  All DEC, of course, so if you had 3rd-party
hardware you were out in the wilderness (we provide such a 3rd-party
intelligent serial device into this environment so I know how hard it
could be).  If you had a standard DEC box, it was fairly push-button.
That was part of their magic.  It mostly worked.

> I hope, eventually, to make a system
> with four RA81 disks with root and usr occupying entire RA81's and
> two more for User files.

Wow!  That's way bigger than our biggest machine at work in 1993.  We
had that 11/750 (that I upgraded to 8MB including adding the extra
memory address line on the backplane) and it pinged back and forth
between VMS 4.5 most of the time and Ultrix-32 3.something as needed
for customers.  It had a dedicated Fuji 160MB drive that mapped as two
RM03s and a Fuji Eagle that used the RM05 device entry but patched for
full capacity (400MB) plus that $26,000 RA81 - Total of just under 1GB
on 3 spindles and two controllers (Unibus and CMI bus).  When this box
was running UNIX, I was the only user so I usually did that off-hours
so everyone else could use VMS for workday tasks.

> sadly, using an RA81 still only gives you:
> /dev/ra01       9598    2849    6749    30%    /usr


> Those were the days.  Sadly, most people in the business today know
> nothing about them.

The forgetting of this environment is why recently there's a push to
collapse all UNIX system binaries into one place because "kids today"
have never been on a system where the operating system is spread
across multiple spindles for space/cost/performance reasons.  Everyone
is used to massive drives where the OS takes up 1% or less of the
entire disk and you only really worry about space for logfiles or
/var/tmp so that userland programs that leave big messes don't crush
the boot volume with endless spewage.

With variable-zone disks (1990s tech) people stopped bothering to try
to tweak performance on cylinder boundaries because you used to have
14 heads and track-to-track switching was 10X faster than stepping.

Some parts of the old UNIX dance I do not miss.  ;-)


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