Re: Xenix on a Lisa2 / Mac XL ?

From: Ray Arachelian <ray_at_email.domain.hidden>
Date: Thu, 15 Sep 2005 11:52:07 -0400

mike sherry wrote:

>Hi all,
>I believe that the Xenix OS was made available for the Lisa, does
>anyone have any experience of running this ? What is it like ? How
>limited is it ? Can I put it on an internal Scsi and use Macworks to
>boot it ? Does anyone know where I can get hold of a copy ?
I've used it, and continue to occasionally use it. It comes with two optional packages, one called Lyrix which has some text based office software (word processor, etc.) and needs a serial #. The other is a set of compilers. Ideally you need either two ProFile drives (which means you need the dual-parallel card) or a 10MB Profile or Widget drive.

The C compiler isn't ANSI, it's K&R which means you can't compile most current software. It's very very primitive. No netowrk stack, no TCP/IP. It does support TTY's on the serial ports, and it's text only, I don't recall if the mouse was supported at all - perhaps under the Lyrix software, but I doubt that.

You can't use MacWorks to boot it, but I think you can share a Profile with a MacWorks partition, though Xenix itself will want most of the space anyway.

You'll also want to find a book on Xenix as it's not quite Unix, and it seems to lack man pages, so it's not as nice or easy as Linux or anything modern. It's still fun to play with.

If I recall right, you boot off the first floppy, which says boot on one line, then just a : - if you hit enter, it'll say fd(0,0) and boot off the floppy. The first disk has a file system on it with the installer and it requires a Widget or Profile drive be attached (and turned on.) it'll then ask you how you want to install it and eventually what to do with the optional packages.

The other disks are in TAR format. I recall trying to transfer Xenix TAR files to my Sun machine using xmodem or uuencode or something, and while it read them the tar format was also in some weird state and the Sun machine restored the files just fine, but the file names had an extra control char as the first letter of the file name - easily fixed with some bash scripting, but a pain in the ass none the less.

Another thing I remember is that Xenix has a /u file system instead of /usr and a /v (I think) instead of /var or something weird like that.

If you trawl the used books on ebay you might find some PC Xenix books that will be helpful.

Mind you, Xenix was quite a nice Unix like environment for its time. I do wish someone would dig hard to see if they happen to have UniPlus disk images and "liberate" them as UniPlus was supposedly a true Unix System V Unix, but no one I've ever spoken to seems to have run across this. A long time ago I contacted the company that made this, but they were unwilling/unable to sell me a copy, though they did confirm that they were the company that produced it. :)

There used to be something called Raoul's Lisa Software archive which (I think I remember had this), but it's no longer there, though that page can be found here: without the Xenix images. A few google searches for Xenix and Sit or Xenix and Lisa didn't turn up much.

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Received on 2005-09-15 09:25:14

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