New Guy, Old School

I was chatting with my soon-to-be shift lead, Doug, at work. I’m the newest guy on third shift, Doug is the senior guy, Jerry has been there forever as well. When I got there, there were two other guys still senior to me, both of who have since been let go, as they were deemed “not senior admins” and “not neccessary” to continued operations, so none of them have been replaced. I volunteered to work the odd shift of Thursday night through Monday night, so my weekends of Tuesday and Wednesday nights. I’ve heard rumors of another future fourth third shift Sr Linux Admin showing up someday, but it seems to me the market is thin, and I worry more about younger guys than I do about older guys. I know, it’s so ageist of me.

Doug and I chatted about the history of UNIX, stuff like the history behind the “/usr” filesystem name. Doug is like 15 years younger than I, still well seasoned Linux-wise, but not an old school BSD 4.2 UNIX admin, like me. He never heard of the old multi-colored BSD 4.2 official documentation, with all the papers describing the theory behind things like FFS, IP stack protocol descriptions, and virtual memory paging algorithms. He was responding with lots of “what?” when I told him things like “usr” was actually an acronym for University of California, Berkeley “University System Research” department, and not simply a shortened version of the word “user”, that there were reasons software got installed in /bin, /usr/bin, and /usr/local/bin. We talked about the evolution of UNIX.

I’d love the opportunity to contribute to a PBS documentary describing the complete fork history of UNIX and all of it’s derivatives, including Linux. Even if you only concentrate on the the most used Linux distros over the past 20 years, it’s a decent story.

We talked a long time about the linux distribution graphic he found online, with so very many forks represented. He was surprised when I told him about the one I remember from the 80s, showing all the AT&T UNIX System 3 forks into BSD UNIX, and the dozens of commercial forks between there and Linux. Is everyone familiar with the life story of the OSF/1 operating system (ended up as DEC Tru64 UNIX)? Doug accused me of being a walking encyclopaedia of UNIX knowledge, but I told him, I just lived through much of that, and I like to read,.and have been buying technical manuals ever since I could afford them.

1 thought on “New Guy, Old School

Comments are closed.