Research UNIX v8

    v8 on SIMH

So what the heck is Research UNIX v8?  Or even what is Research UNIX?  Well a query against utzoo gave me this answer:

>I've seen people that use System V and the like refer to their Unix as
>"tenth edition" or "ninth edition", or whatever. I've always seen things as
>"System V release n", or whatever. Anyone know the difference between these
>different naming schemes ?

There are actually three designations: Versions, Editions, and
System/Releases. The proper names of the first six Unixen were
"The #th Edition". Colloquially, people called them "Version #".
The Version Sixth Edition split off several variations, one of which
became Version Seven (the Seventh Edition) and sired BSD. From
several others, System III was born, and later named System V.
Tacked onto this name were Release numbers and yes, Versions.
So you will see things line SVr3v2.

The Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Editions seldom left Bell Labs
and are also referred to as "Research UNIX". Another system
(not UNIX) they are playing with is called "Plan 9". Every so
often, a feature, such as STREAMS, finds its way into System V.

In some ways, Research UNIX is closer to BSD than to System V.

In short, UNIX began it’s life as a research project.  Until recently versions 1-6 & 32v were available to the public.  However the later versions, 8,9,10 were not.  However thanks to the work over at TUHS it’s available for non commercial use:
Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc has permitted usage saying "will not assert its
copyright rights with respect to any non-commercial copying, distribution,
performance, display or creation of derivative works of 
Research Unix®1 Editions 8,9, and 10."

So awesome!

The version of Research v8 is split onto 2 tape images, one for the graphical terminals, and the other for the OS install onto the VAX.  The distribution is not suitable for any standalone operation, and requires a previously installed 4.1BSD machine, with a second disk to install v8 onto.  Part of the installation requires you to compile your own kernel.  I ran into a bit of problems as it’s not a 100% process, but after referencing this guide from David du Colombier, I had the system up and running.  Naturally reading the installation manual helped a great deal too.

As always there is strange artifacts left in the backup, such as this scoreboard from rogue:

Top Ten Rogueists:
Rank Score Name
1 5545 Rog-O-Matic XIII for mjs: quit on level 17.
2 5043 ken: killed on level 23 by a dragon.
3 3858 zip: killed on level 16 by an invisible stalker.
4 3249 Rog-O-Matic VII: killed on level 16 by an invisible stalker.
5 2226 Rog-O-Matic VII: killed on level 13 by a troll.
6 2172 St. Jude: killed on level 13 by a troll.
7 1660 Rog-O-Matic VII: quit on level 11.
8 1632 Chipmunk the Jello: killed on level 10 by a centaur.
9 844 Rog-O-Matic VII: quit on level 5.
10 401 Rog-O-Matic VII: killed on level 4 by a snake.

Does this mean Ken Thompson was an avid rogue fan?  Perhaps.  Naturally I quickly compiled the v100 version of aclock, and had it running.

aclock on v8

I’ll have to edit this and more and more as I find out, but I’ve been busy in real life, and of course I know that in addition to v8, there is also v9 & v10 to tackle.

As always, if you want you can download my pre-installed from my site : researchv8.7z

You will have to bring your own copy of the SIMH VAX-11/780 simulator.  As of 31/3/2017 ther is issues with the github version of SIMH, and you will have issues with the disks on the VAX.  You need to disable the async with a simple set command in your ini file:

set noasync

And you should now be good to go!  As always you’ll have to battle the 404 page for the correct link and the username & password.


Building and using GCC 0.9 aka the first public version

In my quest for old software, I’ve seen this file in multiple searches, gcc-0.9.tar.bz2, which is the first version of GCC!

article from

GCC 0.9 on SIMH VAX / 4.2BSD

GCC 0.9 on SIMH VAX / 4.2BSD

From the original announcement:

 Date: Sun, 22 Mar 87 10:56:56 EST
From: rms (Richard M. Stallman)

   The GNU C compiler is now available for ftp from the file
/u2/emacs/gcc.tar on  This includes machine
descriptions for vax and sun, 60 pages of documentation on writing
machine descriptions (internals.texinfo, internals.dvi and Info
file internals).

   This also contains the ANSI standard (Nov 86) C preprocessor and 30
pages of reference manual for it.

   This compiler compiles itself correctly on the 68020 and did so
recently on the vax.  It recently compiled Emacs correctly on the
68020, and has also compiled tex-in-C and Kyoto Common Lisp.
However, it probably still has numerous bugs that I hope you will
find for me.

   I will be away for a month, so bugs reported now will not be
handled until then.

   If you can’t ftp, you can order a compiler beta-test tape from the
Free Software Foundation for $150 (plus 5% sales tax in
Massachusetts, or plus $15 overseas if you want air mail).

   Free Software Foundation
1000 Mass Ave
Cambridge, MA  02138

[tapes are generally in Unix tar format.  If you have other needs,
write to the above address, and ask if they can be met. -len]

And indeed, the files are dated 22/03/1987 making this the first public release of GCC.

GNU CC is a fairly portable optimizing C compiler intended for
machines with 32-bit words that have several registers and address
memory in terms of 8-bit bytes.  It supports full ANSI standard C, not
including libraries (which we do not consider to be part of a
Currently we have working machine descriptions for the Vax and for
the 68000/68020 (including 68881 support).
Optimizations performed by GNU CC include:

  • Invariant code motion out of loops.
  • Common subexpression elimination.
  • Automatic register packing (register declarations are unnecessary
    and ignored).
  • Constant propagation and elimination of consequent dead code.
  • Copy propagation.
  • Elimination of dead stores.
  • Jump optimization including cross-jumping.
  • Delaying of stack adjustments after function calls.
  • Arithmetic performed in subword types when appropriate.
  • Many local optimizations.

GNU CC runs about as fast as PCC.
Most of the optimizations are machine-independent or controlled by a
machine description.  GNU CC takes advantage of all the 68020
addressing modes that we can see how to make the Sun assembler
assemble.  Debugging output for DBX is available whether you request
optimization or not.

Seeing as 4.3BSD didn’t ship until 1988, I went ahead and set out to build this on 4.2BSD. The first stumbling block I hit is that GCC needs bison.  The oldest version of bison I have is 1.25 which honestly is just too new!  However in the same location as GCC is this file gnu1988.tar.bz2 which contains all of the current GNU software of 1988!  And what is on that tape?

  • bison-1.00
  • gcc-1.21
  • gdb-2.5.1
  • gplusplus-1.21
  • libgplusplus

So this is probably as old as it is going to get, so I downloaded and went to compile bison, however getopt is a missing call!  A creative search found getopt.c and even better PCC liked it enough to get a running bison so I could then configure GCC.

Configuring GCC is a manual process, but not too involved:

  • Make a symbolic link from file `config.h’ to the top-level
    config file for the machine you are using. Its name should be
    `config-MACHINE.h’. This file is responsible for
    defining information about the host machine. It includes
  • Make a symbolic link from `tm.h’ to the machine-description
    macro file for your machine (its name should be
  • Make a symbolic link from `md’ to the
    machine description pattern file (its name should be
  • Make a symbolic link from
    `aux-output.c’ to the output-subroutine file for your machine
    (its name should be `MACHINE-output.c’).Make sure the Bison parser generator is installed.Build the compiler. Just type `make’ in the compiler directory.

And in a minute I had GCC compiled.  I ran it with -v and got this output:

# gcc -v
ld /lib/crt0.o -lc

It really is nowhere near as featured as 1.21 that is for sure!  So time to do a simple hello world program:

# cat hello.c
#include <stdio.h>
void main(){
printf(“GCC 0.9 in action!\n”);
# gcc -v hello.c -o hello
cpp -Dvax hello.c /tmp/cc002050.cpp
cc1 /tmp/cc002050.cpp -quiet -dumpbase hello.c -noreg -o /tmp/cc002050.s
as -o hello.o /tmp/cc002050.s
ld -o hello /lib/crt0.o hello.o -lc
# ./hello
GCC 0.9 in action!

And there we go!

I don’t know why, but I haven’t seen anything about anyone actually running GCC 0.9.  Or even where or how they found this ‘lost’ file.  Let alone anyone even building or running it in 2016.

For anyone who wants to try, SIMH tape files of the binaries are here:

And of course source tapes are here.

Setting up DECNet on VMS 4.7

Years ago, I was given an image of VMS 4.7.  I only tested it for idle capabilities, and that is as far as I got with it.  I never used it for anything else.

But today I needed to verify my Win32 Hecnet project works, so I needed to generate some legit DECNet traffic.  Luckily I still have the VMS image, and in the prevailing years I managed to get a copy of PathWorks for Windows NT (And one for MS-DOS as well!).

So googling around, I found blinkenbone who mentions the command needed to setup some DECNet love.  Now the one thing that is strange about DECNet is that the MAC address needs to be changed to the DECNet area & node id.  Thankfully there is an online calculator, powerdog.  Since I’m just testing, I’ll put my VAX in area 1, node 1, that means the VAX MAC needs to be set to:


So in SIMH, I just use the line:

set xq mac=AA-00-04-00-01-04

Cool.  Now I use ansicon, in the hopes it’ll make the console better, and fire up VMS.

VMS 4.7 booted

VMS 4.7 booted

And then login as system/manager

Now I can setup decnet very simply like this:

Username: SYSTEM
Welcome to VAX/VMS version V4.7
Last interactive login on Saturday, 20-SEP-2008 17:32
$ @sys$manager:netconfig

DECnet-VAX network configuration procedure

This procedure will help you define the parameters needed to get DECnet
running on this machine. You will be shown the changes before they are
executed, in case you wish to perform them manually.

What do you want your DECnet node name to be? : rabbit
What do you want your DECnet address to be? : 1.1
Do you want to operate as a router? [NO (nonrouting)]:
Do you want a default DECnet account? [YES]:

Here are the commands necessary to setup your system.

$ RUN SYS$SYSTEM:NCP ! Remove existing entry, if any
/UIC=[376,376] /ACCOUNT=DECNET –
Press RETURN to continue


Do you want to go ahead and do it? [YES]:
%UAF-I-ADDMSG, user record successfully added
%UAF-I-RDBADDMSGU, identifier DECNET value: [000376,000376] added to RIGHTSLIST.
%UAF-I-DONEMSG, system authorization file modified
%UAF-I-RDBDONEMSG, rights database modified
%NCP-I-NMLRSP, listener response – Success
Logging sink type = monitor
%NML-I-RECADDED, Database entry added

The changes have been made.

If you have not already installed the DECnet-VAX license, then do so now.

After the license has been installed, you should invoke the procedure
SYS$MANAGER:STARTNET.COM to startup DECnet-VAX with these changes.

(If the license is already installed) Do you want DECnet started? [YES]:
%%%%%%%%%%% OPCOM 28-OCT-1987 15:42:37.64 %%%%%%%%%%%
Message from user DECNET
DECnet starting

%RUN-S-PROC_ID, identification of created process is 00000109
%RUN-S-PROC_ID, identification of created process is 0000010B
%%%%%%%%%%% OPCOM 28-OCT-1987 15:42:42.67 %%%%%%%%%%%
Message from user DECNET
DECnet event 4.10, circuit up
From node 1.1 (RABBIT), 28-OCT-1987 15:42:37.69
Circuit QNA-0

It basically set itself up.

And on the Windows NT side, I simply set itself up as node 2 in area 1.

Windows NT + Pathworks

Windows NT + Pathworks

And now I can use CTERM to connect to the VAX.



Nice!.  And it even works through my port of HECNet.

On reboots you have to manually start the network.  I don’t have EDT, or I don’t know where to find it (remember the gold key? ugh).

Manually starting the network

Manually starting the network

But it’s a simple command:


And you are good to go!

Likewise shutting down is accomplished with this:


And that’s about all I know about VMS.  But it’s good to see that configuring this was pain free!

Some minor work on SIMH

So it’d been a while since I’ve booted it up, and I just went with the 3.8-2 rc2 release (I forget did that version ever get released..?) Anyways since I wanted to run my SIMH instance under a Linux VM..

Soooo I went through some fun to recompile it as a 32bit binary, as the slirp doesn’t work on 64bit machines..

I just built the 11/780 emulator as I wanted to run 4.3 UWisc on my VM (in a VM)..

You can download the build here.

As a reminder the installation instructions for 4.3 BSD Uwisc can be found on gunkies, and all the files needed are on sourceforge.  Also the 4.x BSD if_de.c driver errors out on receiving packets, and I’ve found it easier to just remove the error checking from the driver, and recompile the kernel and just boot that up.

I’m thinking of rebuilding the login process on 4.3 BSD to bring back AberMud, and self service user creation.  Years ago I used to host all kinds of ancient UNIX, and I’d like to bring back at least one..

4.1c BSD

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything VAX BSD related.  So I found this ISO image a while back that had all these old versions of BSD on them, but sadly many of them are incomplete, missing parts, and give really no clue on how to use them.  There is even some duplication thrown in there just to complicate things further.  So I figured I’d try one of them, an interim release of 4 BSD and see if I could just overlay a newer release version and see what I get…

VAX780 simulator V3.8-1
Listening on port 23 (socket 156)
loading ra(0,0)boot
: ra(0,0)vmunix
215688+63964+69764 start 0xf98
4.1c BSD UNIX #2: Tue Aug 28 09:39:12 PDT 1984
real mem  = 8384512
avail mem = 7036928
using 148 buffers containing 838656 bytes of memory
mcr0 at tr1
mcr1 at tr2
uba0 at tr3
hk0 at uba0 csr 177440 vec 210, ipl 15
rk0 at hk0 slave 0
rk1 at hk0 slave 1
uda0 at uba0 csr 172150 vec 774, ipl 15
ra0 at uda0 slave 0
ra1 at uda0 slave 1
zs0 at uba0 csr 172520 vec 224, ipl 15
ts0 at zs0 slave 0
dz0 at uba0 csr 160100 vec 300, ipl 15
mba0 at tr8
root on ra0
WARNING: should run interleaved swap with &gt;= 2Mb
Automatic reboot in progress...
Tue Aug 28 09:54:53 PDT 1984
/dev/rra0a: 836 files, 6010 used, 1419 free (35 frags, 173 blocks)
/dev/rra0h: 6598 files, 41780 used, 320080 free (160 frags, 79980 blocks)
Tue Aug 28 09:54:58 PDT 1984
local daemons: telnetd ftpd tftpd syslog sendmail.
preserving editor files
clearing /tmp
standard daemons: update cron accounting berknet mail printer.
starting network: rshd rexecd rlogind rwhod routed.
Tue Aug 28 09:55:00 PDT 1984

ucbmonet login: root
Last login: Tue Aug 28 09:44:44 on tty00
4.1c BSD UNIX #2: Tue Aug 28 09:39:12 PDT 1984
Master source now lives here; freeze your 4.1c stuff now.
As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not
certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.
                -- Albert Einstein

Pretty cool.  And oddly enough googling around doesn’t seem to find much about people running 4.1c BSD, but it is significant with the first version of sendmail being bundled, and rogue.

The release also includes TCP/IP support but I haven’t the slightest idea how to use it.  I suppose reading the instructions is key.  But I thought I’d share this little fossil first.

For those who want to try it, you can download it here.  It’s using SIMH, so if you aren’t running Windows, bring your own VAX 11/780 and you’ll be good to go.


I never was that much into MUD’s but after reading this and this, I decided to go for it. Looking here, I thought I’d go with David Kinder’s revamping of the version 2 source.

I figured I’d try to run AberMUD on 2.11BSD / PDP-11 which didn’t go so well.. I know there is issues with the word size (it tries to switch on longs which it doesn’t like, I changed them to int’s and.. well sigbus. Not to mention I had to link with overlays and well.. I get the feeling you actually have to do something not just trust the linker.

32v is just too crusty, along with 3.0 BSD. 4.2 BSD was lacking a few functions (memcpy/strchr) so I grabbed some replacements and it just crashed. Looking back AberMUD dates from the late 1980’s so I figured 4.3 BSD would be a far better match. And I figured 4.3 from Wisconsin would certainly work the best for my needs. This time, only a minimal amount of hacking on the source was required, and more importantly it worked!

So here is a tape file with the source & binary.

The next thing I figured I’d do is put it online. Now my VPS runs a 64bit version of Linux, and seeing this is a VAX exe/OS I’ll need to run it on SIMH. Since I’m going to allow people to telnet it (I guess I could go thru some hell with the serial line mux) I’ll need my SLiRP build of SIMH, which only runs clean as a 32bit exe. So to get things started, first install 32bit support on x86_64 debian like this:

apt-get install ia32-libs

Then using Slackware 13.37, I made my exe, and uploaded it… And it worked fine! I also set the cpu to throttle at 3% so I don’t get into trouble for running 100% of the time, and it’ll be about as slow as a real VAX 11/730… It’s a simple line in SIMH, but I tend to misplace things so here it is.

set throttle 3%

Simple, right?

Well I thought I’d make one more change. I hate those systems that make you login to run the designated program that you went there for in the first place. At the same time, this VM is born to MUD, why not let it MUD all the time? Simply replacing /bin/login with mud.1 let me do just that. And of course I could just add an option in mud.1 to allow me to have a normal OS login. Simple, right? Not to mention it works on the console just fine.

So, let’s connect!



I suppose I could hook up flashterm to it later, but for now, telnet on in. I’ve never run a MUD before so I guess we’ll see. Worst case it’ll suck and crash and the only evidence will be the tape image, and this post.

Neat VAX 11/780 picture

While checking out this page, I came across this:



Looks pretty neat eh?

And from the poster:

“Starlink” will provide the astronomical community in the United Kingdom with unsurpassed facilities for rapid and efficient analysis of the vast amount of data produced on telescopes throughout and above the world, thus providing essential support to research which probes the furthest reaches of the Universe.

Then googling about you can find some more here.

So as we can tell, the above picture should have been captioned:

“Starlink VAX11/780 in the Atlas Centre, August 1980. Anton Walter and Lorna Claringbold”

Anyways I wonder if they have the old programs from the starlink…..