NLUUG Najaarsconferentie 1994

The REAL Unified Unix

In the eighties several Unix implementations from different vendors drifted significantly apart. Three main streams were identified of which most individual Unix implementations were recognised to be descendants: the original AT&T System V, the Berkeley distributions and the Xenix variants.

 Initiated by AT&T and Sun, work was started on a "Unified" Unix which was to include the best of the three main streams: the System V Release 4 (SVR4). Most competition felt threatened and - in protest? - opposition quickly organised: the Open Software Foundation (OSF). Subsequently AT&T dissolved its Unix interests into Unix International (UI), which reduced the original three way division into a classic dichotomy: OSF versus UI.

 An important step to reconcile both camps was taken by six major Unix suppliers who, under the name COSE (Common Open Software Environment), started a process to achieve drastic standardisation. Basically the discussion was no longer focused on operating system interfaces, but rather on those elements that made Unix implementations incompatible, like window systems (toolkits, Look&Feel), mechanisms for distributed applications and network- and system-management.
COSE initiated the specification of a standard application environment under the name "Common Desktop Environment" in which the window environment, the look and feel, the deskset applications and the interoperability were established.

 The most recent step in the unification process is the announcement that members of OSF and UI will join forces in a new organisation that, for the time being, will operate under the name OSF. The Unix specifications and the trademark of the name Unix is now owned by X/Open, which will gauge conformance to the specs by a branding process.

 Broadly speaking these are the developments that set the stage for the fall conference of the NLUUG. After 25 years of the turmoil of Unix life, its growth and its diversity, we finally have a prospect that converging standards will ease the future develpment of Unix. These standards and new developments are main points of focus of our NLUUG fall conference.


On behalf of the programm committee:
Willem de Vries, voorzitter.