Subject: Re: yowza! tenon
To: Bill Johnston <>
From: Anita Holmgren <>
List: macbsd-general
Date: 03/15/1994 18:36:30
At 12:11 AM 3/15/94 -0500, Bill Johnston wrote:

>> Is the professional version as "functional" as A/UX would be
>> (assuming you get "MachTen Prof." plus "MachTen X windows package"
>Not even close.  MachTen is like a unix version of "SoftPC".
>It is an emulator, not an operating system.  It runs as a
>Macintosh application on top of System 7, which lacks memory
>protection and preemptive multitasking.  This means that
>a Mac running MachTen is as vulnerable to crashing because
>of a buggy INIT or Mac app as any other Macintosh.

We like to call MachTen an operating system, since it is a complete Unix
BSD operating system, albeit implemented as an application.  But whatever
you call it, it is important to be clear about the resultant functionality
and specific about what are you missing by virtue of our choice to extend
MacOS, rather than replace it.

As Brad pointed out, we do protect Unix applications and run them in a
preemptive multitasking environment.  And, it is possible to run MachTen in
place of Finder; if you do this there are no buggy INITs or Mac apps to
crash the system.

Our philosophy was to extend PC operating systems (MacOS was the first
candidate) by supplying standard functionality (in terms of software
development, communications, etc.) and to insulate ourselves from the
hardware.  Essentially, we are relying on hardware advances to make the
performance worthwhile.  One could make an analogy to using a high level
language instead of assembly language.  We have a big portability
advantage, and with faster processors, faster memory and faster disks, we
have the performance we need.  We expect our native mode Unix for Power
Macintosh to be amazingly fast.
>It's principle virtue stems from its chief flaw.  Because
>it runs on top of MacOS, and shares its filesystems, it
>will run on many Macs (especially PowerBooks) that aren't
>supported by A/UX, with less dedicated disk, and less CPU.
>There is even a version that runs on machines without an MMU.
>MachTen is undoubtedly a well-polished package, but it is
>going NOWHERE, as far as I can see.

MachTen the ONLY Unix for Power Macintosh, and, as far as I know, the only
Unix even planned for Power Macintosh desktops!

We expect to be around for a long time. :-)

>> (i.e. A/uX seems to be at the boot of apple,
>>  MacBSD doesn't seem like it'll support my centris 650 for quite a while
>>  and Tenon seems to have some sort of future)
>Maybe so.  But if you want to _use_ unix on the Mac, as opposed
>to kernel hacking toward the eventual goal of a freely
>redistributable unix on the Mac, A/UX will be the best choice
>for a C650 for the reasonably near future.  It's also a
>reasonable box for doing MacBSD cross-development, I'd
>imagine, so buying it doesn't lock you out of making a

I certainly hope that buying MachTen doesn't lock anyone out of making a
contribution to MacBSD, an effort that Tenon is very supportive of and
impressed with.
>What would be a waste of time, in my view, is to invest
>money and effort in learning, maintaining, administering,
>and porting software to MachTen -- a proprietary unix
>emulator that is used by a relatively small number of

MachTen is a very standard 4.3BSD environment.  We are adding POSIX
compliancy right now and will continue to make it as compatible and as
consistent with other Unix systems as possible.  We are also looking at
PowerOpen's ABI, so that we can support the same applications that Apple's
eventual PowerPC server Unix will support.

[Lots of stuff deleted from your MacMINT message.]

>What you could do is to try to get someone to port glibc to Machten,
>and freely distribute that along with gcc.  The difficulty there
>would be in obtaining enough low-level info about the way unix
>system calls are made under Machten, and in doing so in such a
>way (ie, without having to sign a non-disclosure agreement with
>Tenon) that one could arrive at an unencombered port of glibc.

We now bundle software development tools with all versions of MachTen.
Tenon is glad to provide library sources and information if you feel that
is an issue.

Please don't hesitate to communicate with me directly to continue this
dialog.  No need to burden the MacBSD list.

Best regards,

Tenon Intersystems                           Phone: 805-963-6983
1123 Chapala Street                          FAX: 805-962-8202
Santa Barbara, CA 93101            
                                             AppleLink: TENON