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October 27, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Whatever the outcome of talks between the Open Software Foundation and AT&T, it is very clear that a high level of market pressure has re-shaped AT&T’s attitude to the open systems market in a way that would have seemed inconceivable even a year ago. No new version of Unix has ever been trumpeted in the way that System V Release 4.0 has, and never have software developers been given so much information, and chances to comment, on a system that is unlikely to come to market until the first quarter of 1990. Attendees of the V.4 Developer Conferences, such as the London event that took place this week, were weighed down with technical information on the new release, including draft releases of the Application Binary Interface for V.4 systems, and a revised draft of the Open Look user interface specification. Release V.4, which aims to merge the current System V, Berkeley Unix and Xenix variants of the operating system, will be based around Issue 3 of the System V Interface Definition, which expands on the current Issue 2 by encompassing the full base operating system services specified by the ANSI C language and Posix portable operating system specifications. The ANSI X3J11 committee working on C added about 30 C library routines to the 150 already included in Issue 2, mostly to support internationalisation, while the Posix P1003.1 standard added another 30 system calls to Issue 2’s existing 100, addressing terminal control, signal handling functions (from BSD Unix) and job control functions. AT&T has also added functions that provide Streams input-output services and the Open Systems Transport Layer Interface to the base operating system. On top of this mandatory base will be optional extensions to the Interface Definition, including networking, utilities, administration, software development and terminal interface extensions. Issue 3 will be available in draft form from mid February next year. Beta versions of Release 4.0 source will be issued by the end of the second quarter, with initial binaries and ports by the third quarter.

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