Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Interview with Ken Thompson

Filed under
OS
Interviews

The Japan Prize, one of the highest honors awarded for outstanding contribution to science and technology, was awarded jointly this year to Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie for the creation of UNIX. The prize is normally given to the recipients at a lavish banquet in Tokyo attended by the emperor. However, due to the April earthquake and tsunami, the prizes this year were distributed at the honorees' place of work. I was able to attend the ceremony for Ken Thompson, held at Google headquarters, where he currently works. After the ceremony, he consented to this exclusive interview.

DDJ: You've received a lot of awards over the years for UNIX. At what point in UNIX's development did it become clear it was going to be something much bigger than you'd anticipated?

KT: The actual magnitute, that no one could have guessed. I gather it's still growing now. I thought it would be useful to essentially anybody like me because it was not built for someone else or some third party. That was a perjorative term then. It was written for Dennis and me and our group to do its work. And I think it would have been useful to anybody who did the kind of work that we did. And therefore, I always thought it was something really good that was going to take off.

Especially the language [C]. The language grew up with one of the rewritings of the system and, as such, it became perfect for writing systems. We would change it daily as we ran into trouble building UNIX out of the language and we'd modify it for our needs.

rest here




More in Tux Machines

CentOS Linux 7 and 6 Users Receive New Microcode Updates for Intel and AMD CPUs

CentOS Linux is an open-source, free, enterprise-class, and community-supported operating system based on and compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. As such, it regularly receives new important security updates as soon as they are released upstream by Red Hat. About two weeks ago, CentOS Linux 7 and 6 users received kernel and microcode updates that mitigated the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities unearthed earlier this month. However, after some thorough testing, Red Hat discovered that these updated microcode firmware developed by Intel and AMD caused hardware issues. Read more

Google moves to Debian for in-house Linux desktop

Google has officially confirmed the company is shifting its in-house Linux desktop from the Ubuntu-based Goobuntu to a new Linux distro, the DebianTesting-based gLinux. Margarita Manterola, a Google Engineer, quietly announced Google would move from Ubuntu to Debian-testing for its desktop Linux at DebConf17 in a lightning talk. Manterola explained that Google was moving to gLinux, a rolling release based on Debian Testing. Read more

Android Support Removed from Intel Graphics Driver Debugging Tool for Linux

For those unfamiliar with intel-gpu-tools, it's a collection of tools for GNU/Linux distribution that allows the debugging the official Intel graphics driver for Intel GPUs. Tools include a GPU hang dumping program, performance microbenchmarks for regression testing the DRM, as well as a performance monitor. The latest release, intel-gpu-tools 1.21, adds quite a bunch of changes, including automatic loading of DRM modules when opening a DRM device, much-improved GPU quiescing code to more thoroughly flush pending work and old data, as well as production support for the Meson build system while automake is still kept around. Read more

Educational-Oriented Escuelas Linux 5.6 Distro Released with LibreOffice 6.0

Based on the latest release of the Ubuntu-based and Enlightenment-focused Bodhi Linux operating system, Escuelas Linux 5.6 is powered by the Linux 4.14.13 kernel, which includes patches against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, and comes with a bunch of up-to-date educational apps. These include the OnlyOffice 4.8.6 office suite (only for the 64-bit edition), Vivaldi 1.13, Chromium 63, Google Chrome 63, and Mozilla Firefox 57 "Quantum" web browsers, Geogebra 5.0.414 geometry, algebra, statistics, and calculus app, latest Adobe Flash Player 28 plugin, and the upcoming LibreOffice 6.0 open-source office suite. Read more