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November 1999 Newsletter of the

Front Range UNIX Users Group

Cndnsd Vrsn: 4 PM Tuesday November 2 at NIST - Bill Joy's Journey from BSD to Jini.


From BSD to Jini:
Adventures in Technology, Openness, and Community

The November meeting of the Front Range UNIX Users Group will be held at 4:00 P.M. on Tuesday November 2 in the main auditorium at the U.S. Department of Commerce building (also known as NIST) at 325 S. Broadway in Boulder. (Details on the meeting location are below.) This meeting is co-sponsored by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA, / Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS,

Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, will discuss the journey from the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) of UNIX to the development of Jini technology. Bill helped to create the BSD UNIX distributions 20 years ago, and widely distributed the source. The most notable technical contribution of BSD was a high-performance and well-debugged implementation of TCP/IP. This became the widely-used benchmark for TCP/IP on the internet because the code was available in source form. Sun started shortly thereafter, and pioneered the notion of "open system", with public interfaces but proprietary implementations, a big advance over the proprietary systems of the time.

Now, with Jini, Sun is both making the source code widely available, but also promoting a new way of distributing protocols: namely by shipping "agents" (objects which implement a protocol around), by structuring distributed systems as object/agent based systems. This technical approach allows us to skip several steps: it is no longer necessary to write human-language protocol descriptions and implement them separately and then debug compatibility in order to distribute new functionality and protocols. This promises to greatly increase the rate of innovation in deployed services on the network.

This talk will discuss the reasons why the TCP/IP distribution was successful, the motivation for sharing the source of Berkeley UNIX in the way we did, and the similar reasons that Sun is optimistic about Jini. It will also discuss the thinking behind the Sun Community Source License, the Java Community Process, the Jini Community, and how these provide new opportunities for sharing and working together effectively in the age of the net.

Biographical Notes

Bill Joy is Chief Scientist of Sun Microsystems, Inc., and is a co-founder of the company.

Bill received a B.S.E.E. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1975, after which he attended graduate school at U.C. Berkeley where he was the principal designer of Berkeley UNIX (BSD) and received a M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The Berkeley version of UNIX became the standard in education and research, garnering development support from DARPA, and was notable for introducing virtual memory and internetworking using TCP/IP to UNIX. BSD was widely distributed in source form so that others could learn from it and improve it; this style of software distribution has now led to the "open source" movement, of which BSD is now recognized to be one of the earliest examples.

Since joining Sun from Berkeley in 1982, he has led Sun's technical strategy, spearheading its open systems philosophy. He designed Sun's Network File System (NFS), and was a co-designer of the SPARC microprocessor Architecture. In 1991 he did the basic pipeline design of UltraSPARC-I and its multimedia processing features. This basic pipeline is the one used in all of Sun's SPARC microprocessors shipping today. Bill has led design investigations of architectures for UltraSPARC V, driven the initial business and technical strategy for Java, co-designed the picoJava and ultraJava processor architectures, co-authored the specification for the Java Programming Language, and co-designed the lexical scoping and reflection APIs for Java version 1.1.

In 1997, Joy was appointed by President Clinton as Co-Chairman of the Presidential Information Technology Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee is providing guidance and advice on all areas of high-performance computing, communications and information technologies to accelerate development and adoption of information technologies that will be vital for American prosperity in the twenty-first century. The report of the committee is available at

Bill has developed the Jini distributed computing technology for networking computer devices using Java. His current research interests include new uses of distributed computing enabled using Java and Jini, new methods of human-computer interaction, new microprocessor and system architectures, and the uses in computing of scientific advances in areas such as complex adaptive systems, quantum computing, and the cognitive sciences. Bill is also working on the Sun Community Source Licensing (SCSL) model (, designed to allow companies to share their intellectual property in source form, to facilitate cooperation with customers, partners, educators and researchers.

Meeting Location

The U.S. Department of commerce building is at the corner of 27th Way and Broadway in Boulder. The auditorium is in the main building that faces the entrance and is marked (1) on the map. Note that you will have to take Compton road to the right just after you enter the complex and follow the signs to visitor parking towards the rear of the building. Please allow some extra time for parking. For those who are unfamiliar with the NIST location, driving directions are available at:

See <> for map

Our Last Meeting

At our October Meeting, Peter Honeyman, director of the Center for Information Technology Integration (CITI) at the University of Michigan discussed his group's smart card-related research and development, including innovative computer security applications (like Kerberos), and new methods of interacting with smart cards (for example, as a mounted UNIX file system).

The complete write-up of Peter's talk, including pointers to his presentations, is available at

Our Next Meeting

Our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 2 at our usual location. We're planning to have a panel "stump the experts" question-and-answer session on UNIX system administration issues, as well as a discussion on the possibility of forming a local USENIX SAGE group in Boulder.

FRUUG Library Notes

Because this meeting will be held at the NIST auditorium, FRUUG library books will not be accessible to us. If you have a book to return, you're welcome to bring it to this meeting.

We have three new books from Addison Wesley this month:

  • Interconnections Second Edition, Bridges, Routers, Switches, and Internetworking Protocols, by Radia Perlman
  • Extreme Programming Explained, by Kent Beck
  • Object-Oriented Network Protocols, by Stefan Boecking

You may check books out using your business card as your library card; you must be on the membership list to check books out. Books are due at the meeting following the one in which they are checked out. If you don't return your library books by the next meeting, you might find yourself on our overdue book list. We count on you returning books on time so that other members may have the chance to use them as well.

Remember that your FRUUG membership entitles you to 20% off books from O'Reilly & Associates when ordered through their toll-free number, (800) 998-9938. Mention discount code DSUG.

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