[rescue] DEC KA730, was Re: Electronics Recycling Day

gsm at mendelson.com gsm at mendelson.com
Wed Nov 18 00:11:16 CST 2009

>    The official "Suicide Note" (as it's come to be called)
> predated Ultrix by a few years' time.  Interestingly, Ultrix
> soldiered on almost to the very end as "Tru-64" well and truly
> into the Alpha era.

Well, sort of. It was canceled. What happened is that the 45% or so of
all VAX orders pending, which where for systems ordered with Ultrix were 
canceled instead being modified to include VMS.

Then as people started looking for UNIX alternatives found that they could
go with a different single system vendor, or multiple vendors (which they
had avoided by sticking with DEC for both), orders for systems with VMS
were also canceled.

There was also the belief among customers that if they canceled enough orders
DEC would re-instate Ultirx. It did work, but in the process, VAX orders
were reduced to 25% of their pre-cancelation levels and never fully 

>    Ultrix was -- is -- a BSD derivative.  I don't believe that DEC
> would havd had to pay royalties to AT&T.

I don't know the deal they had with AT&T or Berkeley. Remember that the BSD
used in Ultrix was NOT UNIX. It was an ADD-ON to UNIX and some complicated
licensing issues. 

It was not until the BSD/386 copyright case that a version of BSD appeared
that was "UNIX free" (as in no AT&T code). SUN had a special license, they
could distribute the UNIX code and the BSD code combined without paying
either royalties. It was based upon an agreement to return any SUN developed
code back to Berkeley for public distribution. 

I have read claims that the agreement was never in writing and SUN stopped
returning code after 6 months, but I have no documentation on it and was
not involved with SUN equipment then.


Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Jerusalem, Israel gsm at mendelson.com  N3OWJ/4X1GM

More information about the rescue mailing list