Yesterday, seems so far away

By Paul Murphy, author of The Unix Guide to Defenestration

When you see "Kv495" what do you think of? Of course, the fourth horn concerto; the one Flanders and Swann wrote the words to -- you know, their ode to the stolen horn that laments:

I found a concerto and wanted to play it,
Displaying my talent at playing the horn.
But early today to my utter dismay,
It had totally vanished away.
I practised the horn and I wanted to play it,
But somebody took it away!
I practised the horn and was longing to play it,
But somebody took it away!

When I learned to play with Unix, that meant working with BSD 4.3 on Vaxes and Suns. Solaris is pretty cool and Linux can be interesting, but sometimes I feel like Flanders and Swann: I want my gettytabs back!

You can have it back: there's a vibrant BSD Unix community. The OS now comes in multiple versions including the one that runs the MacOS X shell and there are versions for everything from x86 to SPARC. All of these offer modern device support, security, and applications flexibility built on the UCB/Sun BSD foundations with each of the major variants offering unique features or capabilities without detracting from that comfortable, old sweater, feeling the OS gives SunOS or BSD alumni.

Security and code quality have been big issues for the BSD community. You can, for example, use either OpenBSD or NetBSD to turn a small SPARC server into the most secure web server possible using nothing but free software --and your own rediscovered ability to edit the login message in /etc/gettytab.

It's worth exploring for another reason too: the SCO lawsuit against IBM is really based on the details of the contracts between IBM and AT&T but is triggering other intellectual property rights issues affecting business decisions to deploy Linux. There's a similar case in BSD's backgroound involving AT&T and UCB; but it's history. Investing now in gaining some BSD knowledge is a good way to hedge your bets while giving yourself, and your bosses, another option on a SPARC compatible x86 Unix.