Unix and Linux

When Linux appeared in the first half of the 1990’s, I used to hear a lot: „yes, this is a nice thing, but it is not a real Unix“.

So why was there a different name, even though it was behaving almost the same? It was Posix, but Unix was a trademark, that could not be applied to Linux.

Unix was very important in the 90’s and in the 2000’s, but now it has lost almost all of its relevance.

Newer systems almost always use Linux and systems that still run Unix (Solaris or Aix) are usually considered as something that needs to be migrated to Linux sooner or later.

There is nothing wrong with Unix. It brought us great concepts and these concepts are relevant today. And inventing and standardizing these concepts was a good thing and a success story. But all the good stuff can now be found in Linux and since the progress is happening there, it has surpassed the Unixes. Of course it was a factor that HP in the late 90’s or so announced that they saw no future for their HP/UX, which they revoked, but it had created damage to that system. Oracle had bought SUN and that weakened Solaris. Many other Unix-variants have already lost their relevance long ago or are still lively and good niche systems, like BSD.

The success story behind this is that standards that work across companies have been established and allow systems to work together and to behave similarly.

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How bad can a bad IT be for a company?

Just a funny story that happened some years ago…

I wanted to buy some lamps in a stored somewhere 100 km away from where I lived.

So I went to the shop, ordered them and bought something else already.

Now I went there again when the lamps were there. I had ordered six lamps, but actually wanted to buy one more. A bit of money I had already paid when ordering…
It was a bad day. They told me that the lamps were probably there, but they were not able to process the purchase or even find them because the IT was not running. I was kind of upset about wasting so much time and money to get there and so they paid me the train ticket..

Next time I went there. It took a long time until I was able to pay. And then it really took an hour.. Six lamps ordered, plus one more, minus the sales tax from the previous sale minus what I had already paid plus some other stuff that I had actually bought during this visit. So many numbers all had to be added together with the right sign… After about an hour and many false attempts they got it right. It took an hour from the time when it was my turn to the time I had actually successfully paid and my credit card did work correctly… Then I got a piece of paper and I had to go to another entrance of the building, quite far away from where I was. There they had another understanding about how many lamps I should get then what I thought I had paid for. So I went back to the lady where I had paid and asked her to come with me to help me get the right number of lamps. She did not want to help me in that way, but I got her to write a not on the piece of paper that she had given me, that this means that I was entitled to seven lamps and she signed it. Then after having spent at least two hours I was able to go home with seven lamps and whatever else I had bought.

Now the question is, what is wrong here?

Obviously the IT did not work too well… It did not work at all on the second visit and it did not help getting the job done during the third visit.

But was that really the problem? Or just the symptom?

My impression is that the top management of the company was really bad. The processes were bad. And they were not able to find good employees, to train them and to motivate them. And then the IT was showing the same standard as the rest of the company.

Fixing the IT would not fix the problem. The business has to be fixed, the processes, the management, the employees need to be trained well, selected well and most of all motivated to work well… Then, when there are decent processes, it is a good time to improve the IT to support these processes instead of retaining the bad processes by implementing an IT before understanding the business well enough.

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