History of FreeBSD – Net/1 and Net/2 – A Path to Freedom

klarasystems.com
6 min read
fairly easy
FreeBSD history is long and troublesome. Learn about the time period from the release of 4.3BSD with TCP/IP to the BSD lawsuits, and how Net/1 and Net/2 came to be.
Author's note: So far this history has been jumping around a little bit. That's my fault. I'm learning about the history of BSD as we go along. I'm sure that a few of the more eagle-eyed BSD scholars have noticed the discrepancies, and I'd like to apologize for the jumping around.

With that in mind, this article is going to cover the time period from the release of 4.3BSD with TCP/IP to the BSD lawsuits. This period set the stage for BSD as we know it today. That being said, let's get started.

A New Architecture?

4.3BSD was released in June of 1986 with Berkeley's TCP/IP code installed. An InformationWeek article declared that this release of BSD was the "single Greatest Piece of Software Ever, with the broadest impact on the world". At the time, the VAX architecture, which was used by a majority of DARPA projects, was getting long in the tooth.

Initially, it looked like VAX would be replaced by a new product from Computer Consoles, Incorporated, named Power 6/32. Plans to replace VAX with Power 6/32 were short-lived because CGI decided to go in a different direction. However, it did leave a big impact in the future of BSD.

An engineer named Mike Sullivan was performing routine maintenance on Jurassic when he made a typo. With that keystroke, the server went down and a thousand engineers were left with nothing to do until the data was restored from backups.

Computer Consoles, Incorporated provided Berkeley with several of their Power 6/32 machines to help with the porting process. As part of that process, Bill Joy split the "BSD kernel into machine-dependent and machine-independent parts". This work would make it much easier to port BSD to other architectures in the future. The results were released in June of 1988 as 4.3BSD-Tahoe. "Tahoe was the code name for the Power 6/32."

(Interesting side note: While the platform was short-lived, Pixar's Computer Animation Group used a Power 6/32 machine to render part of 1985's Young Sherlock Holmes.)

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