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Linux.com: Thirty years of Unix

Aug 21, 2000, 00:06 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rob Bos)

"Genetically, the way to revitalise a breed of animals, say horses, you use inbreeding to weed out lethally (or just annoyingly) recessive genes. The method, simplified, is quite straightforward (with respects to Niven, one of whose short stories I borrow this example from) - take a hundred horses of a specific breed, or mixed breeds. Separate them into twenty-five herds of Four each, two males and two females, and let them breed for as many generations as you have patience for. Colts that have lethally recessive genes reinforced, simply die or get removed by the stock breeder. The "good" traits, the ones that enforce the right to breed as dictated by lack of death and the stock breeder, simply leave the drastically reduced gene pool and leave dominant, hopefully more stable genes behind."

"This drastic inbreeding, if taken for several generations, will create horses in each of the tiny corrals that are very different from any of the others, and quickly remove certain traits (and a few extra that you didn't know were there will come out) by removing lethally reinforcing recessives from the genetic pool."

"...Now, consider Unix. Thirty years ago, it was in one location: Bell Labs, with well-documented people creating and maintaining it; a relatively small group. It then split off into the Berkeley unix, the AT&T Unix, and a couple of others. Over the late eighties and early nineties, Unix existed in a freakish variety of flavours, all tiny and inbred and existing only for very, very specific niches - and all very tightly under non-disclosure agreements."

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