Imagine an operating system that was conceived and developed as a secondary project, decades before operating systems became a household word. One that its owner (AT&T) had neither the skill nor the legal sanction to sell. One that once out into the wild, forked into a hundred avatars. One that ran natively on (and was sold shrink wrapped for) few or no consumer hardware platforms. A system that was eclipsed in the 90s by the user friendliness of Mac OS and the business savvy of Microsoft Windows. A system that offered (and advocated) a minimalist approach to usage (user interface, programming, etc).
It is now 2012. That operating system is Unix. And everywhere but the corporate IT controlled desktop market, it rules the computing world in the form of GNU/Linux, *BSD, Mac OS X, iOS and Android.
There are I think some very valuable lessons to be learnt from this phenomenal and highly improbable success. Lessons to do with complexity, methodology, motivation… lessons that are in my opinion very much relevant to the obsessions and fashions of today’s technical world, ranging from exotic programming languages to frameworks and platforms like .NET, Eclipse, ClearCase, etc. Any muddled thoughts I might have on these lessons will have to wait. For now, I want to merely enjoy the moment.
The title should really read: Unix + GNU FTW.