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Re: [PATCH] mdoc: Update operating system release numbers

From: Ingo Schwarze
Subject: Re: [PATCH] mdoc: Update operating system release numbers
Date: Mon, 23 Nov 2020 15:39:39 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.12.2 (2019-09-21)

[ Stripping the Debian bug from the Cc:; while this may be historically
interesting and also interesting for groff, i doubt this matters
for the Debian package.]

G. Branden Robinson wrote on Mon, Nov 23, 2020 at 03:02:49AM +1100:
> At 2020-11-22T16:08:56+0100, Ingo Schwarze wrote:

>>   2. The concept of encoding names and versions of all operating
>>      systems is not sustainable in the long run.

> This was probably a product of its times; there was BSD, only one BSD,
> and then there was System V, and the importance of that conflict caused
> people to adopt a kind of tunnel vision.

Maybe.  Then again, we are talking about 1989.  By that time, the
following systems already existed, just as some examples:

 - SVR1         (1983)
 - SunOS 1.0    (1983)
 - HP-UX 1.0    (1984)
 - Ultrix-32    (1984)
 - V9 AT&T UNIX (1986)
 - AIX 1        (1986)
 - MINIX 1.0    (1987)
 - IRIX 3.0     (1988)
 - SVR4         (1988)
 - SunOS 4.0    (1988)

So even though Linux wasn't in sight yet, some diversification
beyond the AT&T / BSD duality was already well under way.

>> 3. Cynthia was already unhappy with the chosen default behaviour
>>    as early as 1991/08/05.

> Does Cynthia ever pop up to reflect on mdoc's design?

Not really.  With the help of Marshall Kirk McKusick, i managed to
get into direct contact with her in 2014 and she said that she
hadn't thought about mdoc in a long time, except for occasional
regrets of not bringing it to the next stage.  She mentioned that
close to the dissolution of the CSRG at UCB, she started working
on an mdoc to HTML converter but that work was never finished and
the code she wrote in that context was later lost.  She said she
was happy that people found mdoc useful and that people continue
developing it.

One thing she did say that people may like round here is this:

  "What made the macro package possible was groff.
   I regret having had to make the work backward compatible
   with ditroff.  Not my decision.
   Would have loved to have rewritten the macros solely for groff.
   The package would have been smaller, simpler and efficient
   (faster, much faster.)"

Also, she explicitly said that the devlopment of mdoc was originally
motivated by the promotion of the concept of hyperlinks by Apple
at the time and by her own conviction that "that hyperlink and MLs
would be the future" - and note here that she already held that
conviction several years before HTML and Mosaic became available...

All the same, so far, she did not re-engage with mdoc design and
maintenance, but she is definitely happy that it is being used,
she stressed that point once a gain in a later mail.

[ ... snip all the points we agree on ... ]


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