[buug] Where do I find old versions of unix?

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Apr 14 17:09:29 PDT 2005

Quoting willtop31 at epsfh.com (willtop31 at epsfh.com):

> Hello, I'm new to the BUUG.


> I join specifically to get more involved with unix, and to be weened
> from the teat of microsoft.
> My first step is to find older versions of unix, preferably BSD Unix
> of FreeBSD if possible.
> I'm looking for something that will run on a x286 with 8 MB of ram.

Wow, that's still working?  You must be one wizard hardware guy, to keep
that thing alive.

The 80286 had some strengths for its day, but unfortunately the memory
management came out somewhat brain-damaged, and ditto its ability to
handle transitions between "real mode" and "protected mode".  Real
operating systems such as *ixes needed protected mode, but (and I'm
fuzzy about details, a this late date) the '286's protected mode just
didn't quite work properly.

OSes that were designed for it included OS/2 1.x, the little-seen
MS-Windows 2.0, and -- ta da! -- a very, very few specialised *ixes.
The only two (of the latter category) that come immediately to mind are
The Mark Williams Company's Coherent and SCO's XENIX 286.  Both were
proprietary.  Neither included a TCP/IP stack.  Both were long, long ago
end-of-lifed.  The Mark Williams Company has completely vanished.
SCO-that-was in Santa Cruz sold off the tiny fragments of its UNIX
business, including trademarks, to Caldera Systems of Utah (which
renamed itself SCO Group), and became Tarantella of Santa Cruz, instead
(a small Web services company).

{386|Free|Net|Open}BSD never worked on the 286, requiring (in x86
versions) a 386/387 combination as the bare minimum.

ELKS (Embedded Linux Kernel Subset) would probably run on your bitty
box; whether you'd like the result, I have no idea.

Well, and I suppose you could try to find a copy of Minix (bundled with
Tanenbaum's _Operating Systems Design and Implementation_, 2nd edition).

AT&T, back in dinosaur days, at one time offered something called "UNIX
System V/286", but I don't know a thing about it.  (Microport of Scotts
Valley apparently managed the feat _first_, and then licensed the tricks
involved back to AT&T.  Microport got dissolved in 2002.)

> Can anybody point me in the right direction?

Yeah.  Used PII boxes are really cheap.  ;->  Some things just don't age
well, and anique x86 boxes are definitely among them.

More information about the buug mailing list