What user is UNIX co-creator Ken Thompson?

Last weekend, the SCALE conference made a spectacular comeback from the pandemic. Ken Thompson was the keynote speaker. During the Q&A session at the end of the talk, Thompson made a surprising confession.

Ken Thompson, a researcher at Bell Labs, MULTICS, UNIX’s ancestor and inspiration. He also developed Space travel Probably one of the first video games in 1969, I ported it from MULTICS to GECOS and then to a spare PDP-7 I’d been hunting around in the lab, creating a series of development tools along the way. . late Dennis Ritchie Later it became an operating system called UNIX.

hey too Co-designed and co-written Plan 9 at Bell Labs, the better-designed successor to Unix. Plan 9 couldn’t replace its much more primitive ancestor, but still in developmentAfter that, he designed a CPU-independent successor to Plan 9, InfernoThompson, now 80, most recently worked at Google, where he co-developed Go… However, his employment caused problems. refused to take the company-mandated C proficiency teston the weak pretext that he designed the C language.

No living programmer has ever been so prominent. He was a genius, devising and building tools that have profoundly impacted millions of people. regex Regular expressionand edOf course, this is the standard UNIX editor.So it must have been some kind of coup Southern California Linux Expo Thompson in a 20x bag as keynote speaker.

His story is a little surprising in some respects, but nonetheless very remarkable. Thompson admitted that he suffered from stage fright so badly that he had trouble navigating the slides. Still, he recommends his story. This is about recorded music and doesn’t touch Unix at all. Includes information on early digital music encoding systems and formats, Wurlitzer jukeboxes, player pianos, and much more.

The real surprise comes during the final Q&A section (at the 57 3/4 minute mark). “What are today’s operating systems?”

Thompson replies:

I’ve run Apple for most of my life. Lately, in the last 5 years, I’ve been getting more and more depressed… should do it It’s just cruel to allow them to work… vein It’s okay because it takes a lot of space and time to do it. And in the last month or two, I’ve come to say: After many years of investing in Apple, I’m going to throw it away and go to Linux. Especially for Raspbian.

The Reg FOSS desk honestly didn’t expect it to come.

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Mr. Thompson has a long history of trolling the computer industry. touched beforeespecially his famous 1984 paper “Thoughts on Trust Trust” [PDF]he revealed during his Turing Award the lecture he had planted The original C compiler had an inherently untraceable backdoor…and it was still there. ®

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