VSHN.timer #72: Unix and Linux

7. Dec 2020

Welcome to another VSHN.timer! Every Monday, 5 links related to Kubernetes, OpenShift, CI / CD, and DevOps; all stuff coming out of our own chat system, making us think, laugh, or simply work better.

This week we’re going to talk about Unix, the family of operating systems powering most of the world today, even if most people don’t even notice.

1. Unix won. The cloud runs on Unix. Virtually all smartphones in the world run on Unix. Probes all around the Solar System run on systems inspired by and compatible with Unix. BSD, Linux, Solaris, and Mac users are all running modified versions of Unix. Windows users can run Unix; and at some point Bill Gates himself said in 1996 that Windows “in a weak sense, it is a form of Unix”. Students can learn about operating systems using Unix. As an architecture, as a philosophy, Unix has become the operating system for the modern world. Developers have embraced the Unix philosophy, but how and when did it come to life? It all happened when a group of brilliant hackers scratched their itch and wrote their own operating system, and even better, shared it with others. Among them there’s Brian Kernighan, the “K” in the K&R book, who recently talked to Adam Gordon Bell about the birth of Unix and how it all came to be.


2. Developer extraordinaire Amos has written a series of (so far) 13 articles about the structure and inner working of Linux executables, including sample code and step-by-step explanations about many subjects, such as library loading, position-independent code, and much more. We think this should be published as a book, given the depth and breadth, all with a fantastic tone and very easy-to-follow explanations. A delight for all of us geeks out there with time to learn new things during the pandemic.


3. Invisible to mostly everyone, Linux is undergoing a major change; a migration from interrupt-based to asynchronous event-based I/O. This deep change will have tremendous consequences for the performance of Linux, and its flexibility to handle larger amounts of data in shorter amounts of time. Just like the change to systemd, this change will prepare the road for the future evolution of Linux.


4. 50 years after its birth, Unix is still very big business, mostly thanks to its most successful offspring, Linux. No wonder IBM bought Red Hat in 2018, and this year SUSE snapped Rancher, a core player in the Cloud Native ecosystem. The acquisition is now finished! We congratulate Rancher and SUSE and look forward to keep working with them in the future.


5. The tool of the week is cheat.sh, touted as the only cheat sheet you’ll ever need; a unified interface to lots of programming knowledge, all a couple of keystrokes away, including integrations with Emacs, Vim, Visual Studio Code, and whatnot. Brought to you by Igor Chubin, the same person who gave us wttr.in and late.nz.


Are you a Linux, Mac, Solaris, HP-UX, or BSD user? Which Linux or BSD distribution is your favorite? Do you think io_uring and eBPF will have such a deep impact in Linux? Get in touch with us through the form at the bottom of this page, and see you next week for another edition of VSHN.timer.

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PS3: check out our previous VSHN.timer editions about Unix and Linux: #45 and #55.

Adrian Kosmaczewski

Adrian Kosmaczewski is in charge of Developer Relations at VSHN. He is a software developer since 1996, a trainer, and a published author. Adrian holds a Master in Information Technology from the University of Liverpool.

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