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[ih] Ping Eduardo A. Suárez (was Re: What is the origin of the root account?)

Hi Larry,

thanks for all your contributions, it's nice to read old stories.

I was reviewing a large number of documents on the origins of Unix,  
and the different versions that I found on this site  
http://bitsavers.informatik.uni-stuttgart.de/ and the only manual that  
calls the super user "root" is SunOS 1.1 manual from 1984. Since SunOS  
it's based on 4.1BSD and the manual of that version and the latter  
(4.3BSD, etc.) does not refer to a "root" account, I could imagine  
that "root" is the brainchild of Sun.

But it's just my intuition because I have no internal document from  
Sun to support this assumption.

Thanks, Eduardo.-

Quoting Larry Sheldon <LarrySheldon at cox.net>:

> On 4/11/2013 1:58 PM, Eduardo A. Su?rez wrote:
>> this is off-topic, but perhaps anyone can help. What is the origin of
>> the root account in unix?
>> Thanks, Eduardo.-
> My first reply to your question derailed the thread irreparably but I
> would like for you to know that there were at least two attempts at
> answering your question.
> I have copied below two messages (that contain other replies) that I
> think contain all the material on your question.
>> At 1602 on 4.11 I said:
>> On 4/11/2013 1:58 PM, Eduardo A. Su?rez wrote:
>>> this is off-topic, but perhaps anyone can help. What is the origin
>>> of the root account in unix?
>> It certainly is "history" although the "internet" part is a little
>> weak since unix existed before the Internet did, I don't think unix
>> had much to do with the development of the Internet except as the
>> operating system on some hosts that were reachable in the early
>> days.
>> Be fore I continue let me confirm for you all that I have no
>> credentials whatever in the area and all I say is based on an
>> accretion of hearsay, the result of working one, with, and for
>> computers and networks of several kinds for several years in several
>> "environments".
>> Every computer (or more precisely, every operating system instance)
>> with an "account structure" has to have a place to start.
>> On EXEC 8 systems, the first accesses via the construction of the
>> boot tape, fleshed out via the (presumed) physically secure console.
>> From those come the first accounts and their "permissions" and from
>> there the construction of additional accounts and file structures
>> expands.
>> MS-DOS systems presumed the only accesses were via the (presumed)
>> physically secure console and were presumed to be be single-user and
>> there was not much in the way of control or constraint on the
>> file-system structure.
>> MS-WINDOWS (I have not forgotten the original question--I'll arrive
>> back there momentarily) introduced the notions of (at first, serial)
>> multi-user and installed itself with an "admin" account (with either
>> a publicly known, or no password) that the authority to establish
>> file-system structures and to construct "accounts" with some subset
>> of its "permissions" (the most common subset was "all of them", I
>> think).
>> I think unix (and multics, from which it sprouted*) was designed to
>> support multiple users from the outset, and since that first or
>> starter account (also accessible initially only via the (presumed)
>> physically secure console) had to have permissions on the "root"
>> directory it no doubt seemed natural to the GE, MIT and Bell Labs
>> people to call it the "root" account.
>> Obviously, MS had to use another symbol for the root directory and
>> another name for the starter account with access to it.
>> I have not mentioned any of the myriad IBM "OS"s, nor any other
>> because I don't know anything about them, and don't (as I did here)
>> pretend to.
>> *http://www.multicians.org/unix.html
>> At 2256 on 4/11 I said:
>> On 4/11/2013 10:07 PM, Bill Ricker wrote:
>>> On 4/11/2013 1:58 PM, Eduardo A. Su?rez wrote:
>>>> this is off-topic, but perhaps anyone can help. What is the
>>>> origin of
>>>>> the root account in unix?
>>> Etymologically, i have always //suspected// that the userid=0
>>> account is called username='root' because that's the special userid
>>> that owns the root directory '/' also called 'Root', which indeed
>>> is the root of the singular file-system. Unix was peculiar in
>>> having *all* files in a single-rooted tree, not a forest of
>>> separate directory trees named by devices.
>> That is what I was trying to say when I derailed the train.  I think
>> that this is exactly right sub environment in which it occurred.
> -- 
> Requiescas in pace o email           Two identifying characteristics
>                                         of System Administrators:
> Ex turpi causa non oritur actio      Infallibility, and the ability to
>                                         learn from their mistakes.
>                                           (Adapted from Stephen Pinker)

Eduardo A. Suarez
Facultad de Ciencias Astron?micas y Geof?sicas - UNLP
FCAG: (0221)-4236593 int. 172/Cel: (0221)-15-4557542/Casa: (0221)-4526589

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