R.I.P. Dennis Ritchie

Forum: LXer Meta ForumTotal Replies: 60
Author Content
gus3

Oct 12, 2011
10:05 PM EDT
Confirmed by Rob Pike on his Google+ page.

https://plus.google.com/101960720994009339267/posts/ENuEDDYfvKP?hl=en
scan2006

Oct 12, 2011
10:10 PM EDT
I just posted this from o/snews Twitter is currently buzzing about the death of Dennis Ritchie, the visionary creator of UNIX and C, among other things. We hope it's just a false rumor. Story developing, we will be updating. Update: Unfortunately, it seems to be confirmed. Rob Pike, co-creator of the Plan 9 and Inferno OSes, who has worked with Ritchie in the past, and he's currently working for Google's GO language, posted this.

http://www.osnews.com/story/25232/Dennis_Ritchie_Creator_of_...
tracyanne

Oct 12, 2011
10:14 PM EDT
Here is someone deserving of accolades.
Fettoosh

Oct 12, 2011
11:30 PM EDT
I wouldn't want to imagine the IT world without his creations. They were the stairways to a much higher level than might have been.



Koriel

Oct 12, 2011
11:34 PM EDT
I owe a good bit of my living to that guy.

RIP Dennis
dinotrac

Oct 13, 2011
7:44 AM EDT
Bill Gates made Microsoft

Ritchie (and friends) made Unix & C.

Who's the billionaire?

Makes me think of the Shakespeare line: "Who steals my purse steals trash."

On the other hand, hoiw much of modern technology has been stolen from -- or inspired by, if you prefer -- Unix and C?

Good work, guy. We owe you. Big.

tuxchick

Oct 13, 2011
8:02 AM EDT
Quoting: Bill Gates made Microsoft

Ritchie (and friends) made Unix & C.

Who's the billionaire?


Indeed, money and worth are not the same. Thank you Mr. Ritchie.
JaseP

Oct 13, 2011
8:35 AM EDT
Amen to that, Tuxchick...
jdixon

Oct 13, 2011
10:19 AM EDT
Three major deaths in a short time: Steve Jobs, Al Davis, and now Dennis Ritchie.

Of the three, Dennis had the far greatest positive impact, even though most people will never know it.
skelband

Oct 13, 2011
12:32 PM EDT
@jdixon: "Of the three, Dennis had the far greatest positive impact, even though most people will never know it."

Amen.
Grishnakh

Oct 13, 2011
12:34 PM EDT
@jdixon: Don't forget Bob Pease and his friend Jim Williams, both legends in analog electronics, who both died recently.
linuxsavvy

Oct 13, 2011
1:13 PM EDT
Dennis Ritchie's humility is reflected in both his life and death.

There's no frenzied attention, like you'd see when a celebrity passes away.

This man has a firm place in history, though. He's the creator of C and Unix; things that set trends for the computing world.
BernardSwiss

Oct 13, 2011
7:44 PM EDT
As I mentioned in an earlier discussion on a recent death of a public figure, there is a significant difference between "fame" and "celebrity", Dennis Ritchie may not have been a celebrity, but he was famous -- and rightly so. I hope that when I'm gone, I'll have accomplished a tenth as much as he did.
Fettoosh

Oct 13, 2011
8:04 PM EDT
Quoting: I hope that when I'm gone, I'll have accomplished a tenth as much as he did.


Not that you don't deserve it, aren't you asking for waaay too much? :-)

BernardSwiss

Oct 13, 2011
9:10 PM EDT
Hope =/= expectation.

But I can always dream, can't I ...?

Grishnakh

Oct 13, 2011
10:57 PM EDT
This guy needs a monument erected in his honor.

Anyone know what he died of? 70 isn't that old.
tracyanne

Oct 14, 2011
12:09 AM EDT
unspecified long ilness, as far a I know.
techiem2

Oct 14, 2011
9:40 PM EDT
As I said to a friend:

Jobs: Made shiny trinkets and new toys popular with the masses

Ritchie: Made it possible
dinotrac

Oct 15, 2011
5:37 AM EDT
@techim2 -

Wow -- Why the Jobs-bashing?

I can appreciate the difference Ritchie made in my life --- C will always retain a soft spot in my heart, especially the original 32 key word version, and Unix has fed my family for years, but I can also appreciate the things Steve Jobs did. Belittling Jobs's accomplishments does not make Ritchie stand any taller.

For what it's worth, NeXT, in spite of it's lack of commercial success, was a pretty significant accomplishment all by itself. Add in his stewardship of Pixar and you've got a pretty impressive resume without mentioning any kind of fruit.
techiem2

Oct 15, 2011
12:40 PM EDT
I forgot about NeXT. Have heard about it, but that's about it. I'm not familiar with his Pixar involvement (somehow missed that....).

Mainly it's what came to mind, since he's mostly known for the fruity stuff, most of which wouldn't be what they are now without c (of course) and Unix.
mbaehrlxer

Oct 15, 2011
1:11 PM EDT
NeXT is what is running MacOSX now. i have worked on NeXT machines (i got a bunch of them out of a university auction). they were quite nice. the GNUstep is a reimplementation of the OpenStep gui and libraries, which was an effort to make NeXTstep an open standard. (there was an OpenStep implementation for solaris). nowadays GNUstep reimplements the Cocoa api, which makes it possible to port MacOSX applications to linux.

greetings, eMBee.
dinotrac

Oct 15, 2011
8:04 PM EDT
@eMBee --

NeXT machines were pretty audacious when you consider that we're talking about the 1990 timeframe.

The were just a little bit ahead of the technology (not to mention price points), but made a decent little splash with ripples that have lasted for a long time.
patrokov

Oct 16, 2011
10:42 AM EDT
NeXT was built on a BSD Unix foundation, so it can be seen as merely building on Ritchie's (and others') work.
dinotrac

Oct 16, 2011
11:08 AM EDT
@patrokov --

Seriously, are we working that hard to diss Jobs?

Let's see --

Unix itself was simply a quick and dirty rip-off of Multics. C was a refined and improved version of Ken Thompson's B, with data typing added into the mix. B itself was a stripped down version of BCPL, which was written by Martin Richards. And so on and so forth.

Does any of that take away from Ritchie's accomplishments? Not in the least.

Pretending that similar shoulder-standing by Jobs takes away from his is pure hypocrisy.
Fettoosh

Oct 16, 2011
11:38 AM EDT
Jobs created things for Apple and himself using the creations of others, to my knowledge, he never created anything for others to build upon.

He created things for today, not for the future.

He was a great man for Apple and his peers, not a great man for humanity.

What Jobs did and should be respected for is he brought joy to many people. For that alone, he deserves respect, admiration, and appreciation.

It was unfortunate he died the way he did and so miserably. I don't think we should be directing any harsh criticism to his accomplishments or the way he lived, but rather be more social showing our sympathy and offer condolences to his family and friends.



mbaehrlxer

Oct 16, 2011
12:45 PM EDT
patrokov: the core operating system of NeXTstep was built on BSD, but not the GUI. objective-c was practically invented for this GUI and the tools and libraries created for it have nothing to do with BSD. NeXTstep was not great because of BSD. it was great because of objective-c and the framework they built.

objective-c was built on gcc, and it is only thanks to the GPL that NeXT was forced to release the sources for objective-c. it is only because of that, that gcc can support objective-c, and that we can have GNUstep.

greetings, eMBee.
dinotrac

Oct 16, 2011
1:38 PM EDT
>he never created anything for others to build upon.

Sigh. How does one respond to a statement that silly?
gus3

Oct 16, 2011
2:00 PM EDT
Sigh, indeed.

NeXT used the Mach microkernel from Carnegie-Mellon University. I can't vouch for the typical Unix userspace stuff, but the beating heart wasn't BSD.
Fettoosh

Oct 16, 2011
4:19 PM EDT
Quoting:Sigh. How does one respond to a statement that silly?


Name one item or tech that is open and anyone can build upon/based on?

.

dinotrac

Oct 16, 2011
4:48 PM EDT
@Fettoosh --

Good point. That's why there are no apps for the Macintosh or iphone and why there is no such thing as webkit or Darwin.
patrokov

Oct 16, 2011
4:49 PM EDT
@embee,

Thanks for the clarification.

@dinotrac

Within the context of your post, it sounded as though Jobs had created this brand new thing. I was merely pointing out that he built on existing technology. Now if what you had in mind was what embee pointed out my apologies.

As for hating Jobs, there's only one thing I can't stand about him--his hypocrisy regarding "IP". He tried to own "look and feel" and generic terms like window, meanwhile he violated an actual contract that he signed with Apple Records not to use the name Apple when marketing music.
Fettoosh

Oct 16, 2011
5:19 PM EDT
Quoting:Good point. That's why there are no apps for the Macintosh or iphone and why there is no such thing as webkit or Darwin.


I must have used the wrong words. What I meant is, Jobs never created any technology that is open for others to improve, expand, or make use of.

Webkit is enhanced KHTML, which is open source developed by the KDE team.

Darwin has similar history and based on BSD, NextStep & Apple code. I wonder how beneficial Darwin to others besides Apple!

Like I said, what Jobs created was mainly for Apple's business and interest, not nearly close to what Ritchie created for all.

dinotrac

Oct 16, 2011
5:46 PM EDT
>what Ritchie created for all.

1. Ritchie and Jobs were in different positions. Ritchie was a tech, Jobs a manager 2. Ritchie didn't exactly create for all. He was at Bell Labs and he created for AT&T. Perhaps you are unaware of why Linux exists -- it filled a space left empty when AT&T tried to sue the Berkeley Software Distribution out of existence. 3. What is this fascination with things being based on other things only when it comes to Steve Jobs? BCPL begat B begat C. Multics begat Unix. That's the way technology works. It was true for Jobs AND it was true for Ritchie.
Fettoosh

Oct 16, 2011
5:56 PM EDT
Quoting:He was at Bell Labs and he created for AT&T.


However, Ritchie created technology that is beneficial to all that became a standard for a long time.

Jobs created products and marketing for the benefits of Apple and it stock holders.

Big difference.

dinotrac

Oct 16, 2011
6:50 PM EDT
That wasn't Ritchie's doing. It just worked out that way. AT&T could have declared his work a trade secret and kept it in-house. That they didn't has nothing to do with Ritchie.

As to Jobs -- I've seen people derive a lot of benefit from their Macs, not to mention feeding their families.

Fettoosh

Oct 16, 2011
8:26 PM EDT
Quoting:That wasn't Ritchie's doing. It just worked out that way....


Yeah, and Apple could have kept Jobs at NextStep to deal with a marketing flop and never seen any of the great products at Apple.

Believe it or not, luck and good fortune plays a big role in every success story.

cybergal

Oct 16, 2011
9:04 PM EDT
Since first reading the sketchy notice of Dennis Ritchie's death, I've been Googling the Internet for glimpses into the life of this brilliant man who is responsible for much of the world's daily computing experiences but whose name is not well-known outside of the technical world he inhabited. A quick view of his life shows a quiet, intensely private man whose passion was his work. A man known for his kindness toward others. A man who was highly regarded by many who were honoured to call him "friend". The new pages being added on FaceBook alone is a testament to his influence on the lives of many. Although he didn't run Linux on a day-to-day basis, over the years in various interviews, he had kind words for our beloved OS without comparing it favourably or unfavourably with other systems. He liked the idea of Linux on Kindle and smartphones. He embraced technology. Does this sound like a man who would be comfortable with the comparisons now being made between him and Steve Jobs and/or others? I think not. If we truly want to conform to the spirit of this thread, let's remember Dennis as the remarkable and talented person he was and use and build upon the wonderful legacy he has left us. His memory will be alive as long as we remember him. History will decide who is forever remembered. Thank you, Dennis. R.I.P.
patrokov

Oct 17, 2011
9:54 PM EDT
Quoting:Jobs created products and marketing for the benefits of Apple and it stock holders.
Although true so far as it goes, Jobs most assuredly created products that people thought benefited them...and who are we to judge people's own satisfaction? (Only RMS has that prerogative.)
gus3

Oct 17, 2011
11:48 PM EDT
The local drug dealer also has products that "benefit" his/her customers.
dinotrac

Oct 18, 2011
9:40 AM EDT
@gus3 --

Yeah, and the local drug dealer also treats you harshly for daring to use the products of others.
gus3

Oct 18, 2011
9:43 AM EDT
Sound familiar?
dinotrac

Oct 18, 2011
9:46 AM EDT
Last I looked, it was only RMS characterizing the products of others as evil and chastising those who chose to use them.
gus3

Oct 18, 2011
12:10 PM EDT
Perhaps in the current instance, but as these fora have witnessed, he's hardly the only one to do so.

Besides, wasn't it just a year ago or so that Asus had to make that announcement about their netbooks, with the black-suit lawyers standing in the background?

One may deprecate RMS for harping on the same point constantly, but when his statements are proven true for the whole world to see...

He may be a jerk, but that makes him no less correct.
jdixon

Oct 18, 2011
12:33 PM EDT
> He may be a jerk, but that makes him no less correct.

That is undeniably true. Nor have most disputed such.

The real question is whether being a jerk makes him more of a liability than an asset as the spokesman for the FSF.
skelband

Oct 18, 2011
12:58 PM EDT
@jdixon: "The real question is whether being a jerk makes him more of a liability than an asset as the spokesman for the FSF."

I think the bigger question is "Would there even be an FSF if it wasn't for Richard Stallman?" :D
skelband

Oct 18, 2011
12:59 PM EDT
@cybergal:

Nice summary, thanks.
jdixon

Oct 18, 2011
1:25 PM EDT
> I think the bigger question is "Would there even be an FSF if it wasn't for Richard Stallman?" :D

Probably not, but children do grow up. It may be time for this one to leave the nest. But that's not a decision for me to make.
dinotrac

Oct 18, 2011
2:11 PM EDT
@skelband --

I don't believe there has been a single word denying that RMS has done a lot of good in his lifetime and achieved some major accomplishments.

The problem is that it's not 1985 any more. It's not even 2000, or 2001.

The question is whether RMS is Steve Jobs (heh!! Feeling good and rankled now?), great until the bitter end, or Brett Farve, ended and bitter.

skelband

Oct 18, 2011
2:17 PM EDT
@dinotrac:

Let me throw you a curved ball and perhaps suggest that we were all a bit more plain speaking in 1985 and that RMS hasn't changed but we have...
dinotrac

Oct 18, 2011
2:47 PM EDT
@skelband --

Probably true, but that's not even the question.

Better this --

Is the same guy who created the FSF and planted free software's flag when the audience was developers and assorted other tech-types -- and their employers -- still the right guy when the winnable universe expands to include the rest of the world.

The evidence suggests that he's not.
skelband

Oct 18, 2011
3:39 PM EDT
@dinotrac:

Perhaps, but the only people actually listening are still the techies. :P
dinotrac

Oct 18, 2011
3:52 PM EDT
@skelband...

Maybe there's a reason for that.
skelband

Oct 18, 2011
4:03 PM EDT
@dinotrac:

Yes there is: most people don't give a d@mn.
dinotrac

Oct 19, 2011
7:32 AM EDT
@skelband --

You're right, but I suspect you're only looking in one direction when two is required.
patrokov

Oct 21, 2011
5:23 PM EDT
Maybe it would be good for RMS to be canned Jobs-style, prove he's a success in two other companies, and then be welcomed back as the FSF messiah to save it from oblivion and make it the darling of both the literati and the masses.
dinotrac

Oct 21, 2011
5:41 PM EDT
@patrokov -

Hmmmm.
hkwint

Oct 22, 2011
4:20 PM EDT
@dino: In this changed 2011 world more people listen to some rich guy called 'Mark Shuttleworth' (who became rich probably because of Berkeley and Netscape tech?) than to the old man with the beard. You're on LXer, you should know the position of the close button raises more discussion than the one about freedom. The one about freedom only raises more discussion if some other popular -now passed - guy is mentioned. But that guy is not the topic of our discussion.

Back to Ritchie: From what I read, together with Thompson he made a rip-off of MULTICS, but contrary to what's being clamed here, not for AT&T! AT&T actually didn't give about it anymore, because they had _withdrewn_ from the MULTICS team! So in my opinion, like some later guy named Linus, Thompson and Ritchie merely did it because it was their passion and hobby. They started some small project - not anything big and professional as MULTICS. But because they were actually able to deliver a product - full of bugs - while MULTICS was only design papers and no products, UNICS became much more popular.

It's in our society to admire research (inventions) over development (innovations?) Those who make something new, are respected more than those who optimize existing products. That's why some companies and people rather mask innovations based on existing inventions as 'their inventions'.

But trust me, some designers can draw stuff on paper which you cannot make in reality. For example the whole filled with air in a piece of metal, and then in that hole is another piece of metal. Or a hole which goes around a corner. M.C. Escher (one of NL's greatest contemporary painters) has become famous with his drawings of impossible designs, which could not exist in real life - for example as they defeated gravity. MULTICS probably was one of such "almost impossible" designs.

Then, turning some 'impossible' design into something which can be made (work preparation I guess?) and executing it, therefore firstly creating a _working_ product based on the existing almost impossible design, should probably be admired as well. I guess that's where Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson were shining. Not by creating something mathematically perfect / esotheric in the sense of Edgar Dijkstra's deepest wish, but by making some buggy piece of software which could be sold! From that viewpoint, I think he Ritchie / Thompson can be considered one of the first people to 'release early and release often': They released an Alpha of MULTICS (called UNICS) which actually became very popular! I think, basically UNICS pre-emptied the demand for MULTICS.

This 'pre-emptying' method has become very popular in marketing these days I guess: It's how Android became popular and actually defeated more mature products as iOS and Symbian, and it's also what the KDE team tried with KDE4 I guess. Complete failure of such a method if taken to extremes is also possible, as with the ERTMS 2 train security - system which the Dutch government bought to be in trains running within five years - even while the system was not yet designed and implemented yet (basically they bought a non-existing system like the one Mr. Gates sold). Of course it backfired and the track has been ready for five years, but the trains themselves are delayed for totally six years which mean they will only arrive next year. When the alliance running the trains will already be bankrupt! In such a light, Mr. Ritchie and Thompson did a great job of selling something which may not have been ready, but for which there was demand and which actually worked. Well, in between "reboots" of course ("reboots" was Ritchies / Thompsons solutions to any software bugs in the early UNICS-era. Of course, some lousy method later made popular to the masses by some other guy named 'Bill').

So of course, there are the critics. The MIT-MULTICS people might have blamed UNICS for being buggy in exactly the same way that some guy named Steve is blaming Android for being 'difficult'. But blaming buggy products while your product is not even on the market yet, is easy!

And it's also great some people try the exact opposite way and still be succesfull. Like the guy who postponed the introduction of one of the worlds most succesfull products. Upon seeing the device still had bugs, he said "So we don't have a product". And what's the difference? I guess in both cases people liked the products, but with Ritchie's and Thompson's products, people loved the products even if it didn't have a 'famous face' associated to it.
dinotrac

Oct 22, 2011
9:03 PM EDT
Hans --

Whether his intent or not, Ritchie (et al) made Unix for AT&T. That was the nature of their employment relationship.
gus3

Oct 22, 2011
10:47 PM EDT
Wow, Hans, did someone take a whiz in your breakfast cereal?

"Unics" was never intended to be sold to customers. It was merely the base system put together by a few people with a unified understanding of the goal. It took several lessons from the Multics fiasco (#1: don't design by committee!), but the end result was exactly what Bell ordered: a streamlined, in-house document processing system. And thank heavens for that, because it means Unix is one of the best-documented OS's in existence.

It wasn't intended to be perfect, since it wasn't running in highly-available or real-time environments. And, in perfect fulfillment of Fred Brooks' admonishment, they threw away the first version, once Unics became self-hosting.

It is not fair to anyone, to apply the standards and expectations of today to a design and implementation of forty years ago.

EDIT: Corrected major semantic typo. Sometimes, I despise virtual keyboards.
BernardSwiss

Oct 23, 2011
12:44 PM EDT
I thought C and Unix were really designed to make it easier to port a space travel simulation game to new hardware.
cybergal

Oct 23, 2011
4:13 PM EDT
@BernardSwiss: That, too! What a ride!! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Travel_ %28video_game%29

Posting in this forum is limited to members of the group: [Editors, MEMBERS, SITEADMINS.]

Becoming a member of LXer is easy and free. Join Us!