Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 10th May 2008 20:27 UTC, submitted by rosebug
Bugs & Viruses 1983. The year of the IBM PC XT, the Apple Lisa, Pioneer 10 leaving the solar system, and Hooters opening up shop in Florida. It's also the birthyear of a 25 year old BSD bug, squashed only a few days ago.
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25 years ago
by Sabon on Sun 11th May 2008 14:42 UTC
Sabon
Member since:
2005-07-06

Just to be clear. I am not the one that found the bug. I had nothing to do with it getting fixed. This article is the first time I had heard about it. I am in no way connected to this article or any of the events that took place.

Twenty-five years ago the internet did not exist.
Twenty-five years ago few public (as compared to websites today) existed.
Twenty-five years ago not very many people had access to the BSD source files.
Twenty-five years ago most people America and Europe had never seen a personal computer.
Twenty-five years ago Berkley, CA seemed further away than Mars does today.
Twenty-five years ago, or so, a bug entered an operating system that only a ***relative*** few people had access to the source code.
Twenty-five years ago people who didn't have access to the source code and didn't easily understand how to contact the person that introduced the bug, whom they didn't know or know the name of, found that the only way to "fix" the bug was to make a work around.
MANY YEARS went by during which all significant systems that interacted with BSD already had the workaround in place so so long that most people never knew the bug existed anymore because those people that had put in the workaround had done such a good job that nobody noticed.
The amazing thing is that someone did something different recently and encountered this bug and realized it was in fact a bug in BSD UNIX and they were in the position to be able to not only contact someone who could do something about it, but did exactly that. They didn't get sidelined by all the other demands in life. They grabbed onto this due to a great curiosity of getting the initial bug fixed instead of creating a work around.

Twenty-five years ago I programmed on IBM and HP Mainframes. I started learning how in 1979, learning how to program in COBOL, RPT II, FORTRAN IV, and in 1981 BASIC on an Atari 400 and later C. I just might not even have heard of BSD UNIX. Yes I had head of UNIX and Berkley but maybe not BSD UNIX. That wasn't part of my world.
Fixing other people's code has little to do with liking to do this or not. It's a matter of time and demands on our time. I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time not creating new code in the beginning but figuring out and fixing code that was unimportant enough for the main programmers to fix but important enough for ***someone*** to fix. I learned more in the first six months than I had spending two years writing brand new code.

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