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April 5, 1989


By CBR Staff Writer

The fledgling Unix International Inc is now talking about the first workgroups set up as part of its agenda to examine the technological and commercial directions future releases of Unix System V will follow. The idea is to allow those companies manufacturing and developing Unix applications to have some say the future direction of the operating system via their participation in these and other workgroups. Release V.4 is too far down the line for it to be changed now, but by assessing recommendations made by the various groups and passing them to AT&T Co’s Unix Software Operation – responsible for the overall direction and control in the development of Unix – Unix International is to play a key role in all releases beyond System V.4. Tight-lipped The relationship between the two companies is still rather a grey area however, there are no formal mechanisms for deciding how, which and why Unix International’s recommendations – if any – are taken up for future incorporation into Unix. AT&T remains tight lipped, except to say that the bottom line is profitability. This way, the company keeps its strategic options open – eyes no doubt on the struggle with rivals the Open Software Foundation and ensures that ultimate control over the direction of Unix does not slip from its grasp. There are five groups in operation already and they are now reported to be holding discussions with the Foundation on database, languages and common network support issues, a move that has intensified since Uniforum. The kernel issue, however, now appears to be beyond resolution. The five are: Licensing and Conformance – led by Dick Grundmeir of Unisys, this group has produced a complete licensing and conformance policy for System V.4. A programme setting out details of early access to development versions of Unix has been completed – Unix International members will have equal access. Multiprocessing – Locus chairman Jerry Popek heads this group, which is examining extensions to the Unix interface to enable applications to use both tightly and loosely coupled multiprocessor systems. Interface Work Group – this group will evaluate the various standards activities, including the X/Open Common Application Environment, IEEE Posix and Federal Information Processing Standard for inclusion in the interface specification for System V. File System Enhancements and Transaction Processing – here further enhancements and revisions to Unix System V over and above current capabilities are to be examined and defined. Availability, reliability and timeliness of data are the major concerns. Desktop Applications Capture – this group is concerned with the porting of applications from other operating system environments. It wiil assess the technical and commercial requirements that need to occur in the next release of System V in order to shift the bulk of available applications to Unix. Recent additions to Unix International’s membership list include Dupont Fiber Division, Prisma, Stellar Computer, Locus Computing and Relational Technology. The last three are also Foundation members.

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