is Unix dead?

John M. Klassa (
Mon, 02 Feb 1998 09:19:49 -0500

The following is the lead-in to "Liberetto", the newsletter put out by
the folks at Imatix (who put out a bunch of free software). I don't
always agree with this guy, but his writing style is entertaining and
his insights are generally, if nothing else, interesting.

Just curious what others think about this quip in particular:

The fight between NT and Unix is already over (Unix
lost, I'm sorry to report).

--- === ---------------------------------------------------------------------
======= -L- -I- -B- -E- -R- -E- -T- -T- -O- FEBRUARY 1998
======= The iMatix Newsletter Volume III Issue 2
--- === ---------------------------------------------------------------------
= Copyright (c) 1998 iMatix - distribute freely
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Comments to:

Programming -- Technology -- Finite State Machines -- News -- Other Stuff

== COMMENT ---...-.-...-.--...-.--...-.-...-.....---..-....--.--..-.-.---.--

So, Compaq finally went and bought Digital for a fistful of dollars.
Digital was one of the firms that launched the computer revolution,
with their PDP-1 in 1961. The first was sold to Bolt Beranek and
Newman (BBN), who pretty much invented the Internet; the second was
donated to MIT, who pretty much invented the hacker approach to
programming and life in general.

Back to today, and a company that's been selling PCs for 15 years
swallows-up one that's been selling minicomputers for 37 years. This
says a lot about the profit margin on Compaq PCs. It also says much
about the future of this business.

I'm never one to reject a good conspiracy theory, so let's look at the
pieces... Digital was (and still is) respected in many areas: a strong
operating system (VMS), fast CPUs (Alphas) and the technical skills
required to sell large computers to large businesses.

Microsoft bought Digital's operating systems teams to help develop NT.
Intel bought Digital's Alpha chip. Now Compaq has bought the rest of
Digital. If Digital was well-known for making superb hard disks, we'd
probably see Seagate swimming around there somewhere.

A minute's silence...

The concept of a Microsoft-Intel-Compaq axis being able to flatten any
other computer company, including the last of the old timers, IBM, is
interesting if not particularly savoury. The battle is headed uphill,
to the territory of the Large Machines. Expect to see new servers from
Compaq, stuffed with 4 to 32 Alpha CPUs, working in tight clusters, and
running NT only. The fight between NT and Unix is already over (Unix
lost, I'm sorry to report). The next round is between M-I-C and IBM.

Pieter Hintjens
1 February 1998

John Klassa / Alcatel Telecom / Raleigh, NC, USA <><