Thursday, December 25, 2008

Geek Christmas

I was a good geek this year, and received a framed Mt. Xinu 'Death Star' poster. 4.2 > V!!

For students of Unix history, this poster is an all-time classic. Featured in the Jargon File (now in print form as the New Hacker's Dictionary, by Eric Raymond).

From the 'Death Star' Jargon File entry:

The AT&T corporate logo, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Death Star in the Star Wars movies. This usage was particularly common among partisans of BSD Unix in the 1980s, who tended to regard the AT&T versions as inferior and AT&T as a bad guy. Copies still circulate of a poster printed by Mt. Xinu showing a starscape with a space fighter labeled 4.2 BSD streaking away from a broken AT&T logo wreathed in flames.

I received this poster as a young Unix geekling in 1991, when, inspired by the Jargon File, I wrote Mt. Xinu and requested a copy. They were kind enough to send one.

Miraculously, 2 apartments and 1 house move later, I still have it, and asked to have it framed this year for Christmas. Marty Braun did a great framing job. I recently had my home office renovated, and it will make a fine addition.

'4.2 > V' refers to the fact that Unix purists believe that BSD is the one true Unix, and is superior to System V Unix, hence '4.2 > V'. Mt Xinu (which is 'Unix TM' backwards) ran the 4.2 BSD kernel.

I also had a copy of a '4.4 > V' poster (by BSDi, if I remember correctly), but it has gone missing. If anyone has one, please let me know. I'd be happy to make an offer and add it to my collection.

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