[Semibug] Lightning talk - Historic Systems - Simulation Resources
Jeffrey David Marraccini
jeff at nucleus.mi.org
Tue Aug 22 19:29:16 EDT 2017
[ Thank you for the great meeting! -- Jeff ]
SemiBUG - Historic Systems - Simulation Resources
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Even for people that were born after these systems, revisiting them
shows why our current computing models are so rich and varied.Earlier
systems will feel crude to us, and even claustrophobic, due to the lack
of easy and robust networking.It is now quite rare to be totally cut off
for all forms of communications, and honestly, the early systems helped
lead the way there, too.The early Internet ran on DEC PDP systems, among
others!For those of us that actually used these systems day to day, it
can be a sharp reminder of how far we have come when storage was really
measured in kilobytes and megabytes, and even an under-configured
mainframe like the Oakland University Multics system felt like a
Need an idea for a winter project when you are snowed in?
Using a sufficiently powerful computer running BSD, Linux, macOS, or
Windows, it is possible to run several simulated environments and
network them together virtually on the host, allowing a basic recreation
of what the early Internet looked like (ARPANET), with DEC PDP, DEC VAX,
IBM mainframe, Multics (MIT Multics, OU's Multics never joined The
Internet directly and had to be reached via terminal emulation), and
others.For some fun, load a few different 4.3 BSD systems and set up
shared authentication and host files, and go back to the days of rsh & rcp!
Internet sites like wikidot, wikipedia, bitsavers, archive.org, and
others have rich materials including scans of original documentation.
Multics on SIMH:
Often teased about, Multics is indeed a very rich classic computing
environment that lead to the development of Unix, virtual memory, and
most recently, is being rediscovered due to its unique (even to this
day) manner of mapping memory resources to files (segments in Multics
parlance) that is coming to be relevant again with the rise of
non-volatile direct access memory.
Check out http://www.multicians.org/ for a huge library of materials
about this operating system, including simulator resources that work on
BSD, Linux, macOS, and Windows.
Eric Swenson has a well-organized Multics FAQ at
Oakland University had a Multics, and Jeff has pieces of it in his
office.Not long back, an OU Multics CPU panel was brought back to life
at The Computer History Museum, being driven by the SIMH-hosted Multics
simulation environment lead by Harry Reed, Charles Anthony, and many
Efforts are underway now to get Internet protocols working again, as
unfortunately, most of the source code for the early Internet software
for Multics has been lost.However, several people already have Multics
systems reachable on The Internet using similar techniques that Oakland
University used back in the day:virtually wire up the FNP to a
telnet-based terminal server :-)
Michigan Terminal System:
[ Jeff's Hercules environment will not run on his work computer due to
restrictions here, my apologies, but there are youtube demos that show
MTS was an IBM mainframe-based environment that was used by many
thousands of students, faculty, and staff at The University of Michigan
for many years.MTS was used to help develop software that lead to the
rapid expansion of The Internet, and for a while, many sites ran MTS.
It is now possible to simulate MTS on the Hercules IBM mainframe
simulator, among other IBM mainframe operating systems.It is a direct
restore of code formerly running at UofM.
4.3 BSD on VAX via SIMH:
[ Jeff may have to cheat and run Ultrix today as I appear to have
corrupted the copy of 4.3 BSD on this computer.It comes up very
similarly, though ]
I (Jeff) spent a lot of time dealing with the 4.x BSD systems as Oakland
University ran them for Computer Science, Engineering, Chemistry, and
Physics installations over the years.We had a few small and mid-sized
systems running 4.3 BSD networked together using early Ethernet
networks, including a VAX 750, the most lovingly-used system since it
was basically wide open to all School of Engineering and Computer
Science students and faculty.
Back in the day, you had to have both AT&T and Berkeley Unix licenses to
get source and binary tapes to run BSD, but in our modern era, they are
more easily come by, and running 4.3 BSD can be very instructional!I
always quickly realize what I am missing, mainly the rich shells we are
used to today, but all the basics are there even on an initial
installation, but it is a hard adjustment to switch back to a telnet,
rsh, and rcp lifestyle from our more encryption-is-mandatory Internet :-)
Easy to set up in the simulator by virtually reading the install tapes,
4.3 BSD was a very rich environment for its time, and lead to
development of a lot of commonly-used tools today.On a fast host, it
still takes quite a bit of time to rebuild 4.3 BSD from its source tapes!
Apple Lisa on LisaEm:
The Lisa was a short-lived computer that represented Apple's view of
future computing.Supplanted by Macintosh, it did bring a lot of XEROX
Palo Alto Research Center technologies into wider view but was always
hamstrung by very slow storage of the day.The 5MB Profile hard drive
that was required to run the original Lisa was attached using a "high
speed" serial port and was only barely faster than floppy discs.The Lisa
OS also had some architectural issues that resulted in slow performance
opening and closing files.
Later on, Lisa's hardware was used to run a port of Unix, and still
later, the oft-dreaded Microsoft/SCO Xenix :-)SCO got its start with
this port back in 1984.
LisaEm has limited porting targets at present and likely will not work
on your existing BSD system.Best success is currently had by running
Windows natively or on emulation using a powerful system.
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