[CentOS] Re: Ole Fossils [ was Re: ls and rm: "argument list too long"]

Bill Campbell centos at celestial.com
Sat Oct 25 19:10:57 UTC 2008

On Sat, Oct 25, 2008, David G. Mackay wrote:
>On Sat, 2008-10-25 at 10:30 -0700, Bill Campbell wrote:
>> And our Burroughs B-3500 would run circles around the 360/50.
>> The Burroughs had a whopping 200KB of memory, ran an average of
>> 20 jobs in the mix, and didn't require 40 JCL cards to compile
>> and run a one line Hello World FORTRAN program.
>The good old Master Control Program at work.
>> Burroughs invented virtual memory in the early 60s in their large
>> systems allowing them to run large programs in small memory.
>> When IBM invented thrashing, called it virtual memory, the
>> minimum memory requirements to run it was 1MB requiring major
>> updgrades to support it.  IBM never wrote a line of code that
>> was not designed to sell more hardware.
>Of course, there was the time that the large systems group put the
>segment-not-present handler in an overlayable segment.  The good folks
>at the factory had machines with max memory, so it wasn't a problem for
>them.  It was a nice hard hang for those that didn't have enough memory.

My first Burroughs experience was on the B-5500, and it had some
``interesting'' quirks.  Using Burroughs extended ALGOL, one could do what
they called array row writes to very efficiently write large chunks of
memory with a single hardware command.  The hitch was that if one tried to
write more than 1024 48bit words, it would crash the entire system, with a
side effect of losing the accounting information for all running programs,
which could be useful when paying $750/hour for time sharing :-).

>> Bringing this back to Linux, at that time IBM occupied the place
>> of honor that Microsoft has now with an effective monopoly, a
>> cumbersome and inefficient system requiring an army of support
>> people to keep it running, and required constant patching.
>Yes, but at least IBM tested their equipment, and HAD sufficient support
>folks.  I used to work for Burroughs, and that was a source of
>frustration for all concerned.

Are you retired Air Farce?  A fair number of Burroughs field engineers had
learned the Burroughs equipment in the AF (and could afford to work at BGH
low pay because of their retirement pay).

One might say that I worked for Burroughs too as I debugged their Remote
Job Entry (RJE) software for Medium systems, including patching MCP,
because the company I worked for needed it to work.  I talked Burroughs out
of the source code for RJE and the current version of MCP so that I could
fix things.  After I sent them the fixes, I never had any problem getting
anything I asked for.

FWIW, the entire source code listing for MCP fit in a single file drawer.
Reading the comments in the code, it was obvious that a very small group of
people worked on it which resulted in quite nice integration and

Can you imagine`Microsoft making the source code for Windows available to a
small customer for free, and with no NDA so the customer could fix a
problem that was critical to them?  Even if they supplied the source, do
you think anybody could figure it out?

One of the most important features of open source software is the
availability of the source code so people can quickly fix bugs critical to
them or add features they need.  As an example, in January 2000, groff had
a y2k problem with dates which I found printing a letter that needed to go
out.  It took me about 15 minutes to find the problem in the code, fix it,
and send that patch back to the maintainers.  Imagine how long it would
take to get a similar problem fixed in M$-Word.

INTERNET:   bill at celestial.com  Bill Campbell; Celestial Software LLC
URL: http://www.celestial.com/  PO Box 820; 6641 E. Mercer Way
Voice:          (206) 236-1676  Mercer Island, WA 98040-0820
Fax:            (206) 232-9186

Bagdikian's Observation:
	Trying to be a first-rate reporter on the average American
	newspaper is like trying to play Bach's "St. Matthew Passion"
	on a ukelele.

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