What is ULTRIX?

ULTRIX operating system is the original brand of Unix systems developed by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).

What is ULTRIX?

ULTRIX Operating System

The first Unix development occurred in the December team, especially PDP-7 and PDP-11 Programmable Processor systems.

Later computers, like VAX systems, were popular platforms for running Unix; UNIX/32V, the first port to VAX, was completed in 1978.

Unix Engineering Group (UEG), which is definitely the key to incorporating Unix into the company, was launched by Bill Munson with Jerry Brenner and Fred Canter both from the first Customer Service Design Group, Bill Shannon, and Armando Stettner.

Other subsequent UEG members included Joel Magid, Bill Doll, and Jim Barclay, who were hired from various marketing and product management groups in December. Under the management of Middle Slam, the UEG team released a modified version of the V7M, Unix 7th Edition.


Shannon and Stettner initially worked on low CPU and device driver support at UNIX/32V, but the University of California began focusing on working with Berkeley 4BSD.

From Berkeley, Bill Joy has prepared a new BSD version for UW CPU that includes UEG CPU support and drivers to work with Shannon and Stettner and has been developing last-minute development and testing on other configurations in the field since December.

Aside from that, all three uploaded a final trial version to the main VAX used by the VMS development group.

No comments were heard from VMS developers who greeted the terminals the next morning for early access to the Unix system. The UEG machine launched a new Unix marked 4.5BSD for the first time because it was the tape that Bill Joy bought with him.

The idea believed that it would be better to call 4.1BSD the 5BSD being the next version of university lawyers.

After the 4.1BSD project, Bill Joy left Berkeley to work at Sun Microsystems.

Bill Shannon later moved from New Hampshire to accompany him. Armando Stettner stayed in December and later designed and launched the Ultrix project.

December UEG’s main VAX, called decvax, was one of the central nodes in the Usenet and UUCP network.

It was the first system to connect the west and east coasts of the USA, Duke University, and UC Berkeley to e-mail and Usenet news articles in real-time. Later, after adding some compression capacity to the networks, decvax merged with Europe and then Australia to search at least twice a day.

Shortly after IBM announced its plans for a local UNIX product, Stettner, who had defended the UNIX product several times in the past, told a marketing manager Bill Doll that it was finally time, and VAX gave time until December to offer local Unix products to its customers.

Then an offer was made to Bill Munson, who presented the idea for Ken Olsen. He said that Olsen bought a Unix plate, glued it to someone’s chest, and let’s do it. So Ultrix started.


On December 1, the local UNIX product was V7M or V7M11 for PDP-11 and was based on the 7th Edition UNIX version of Bell Labs.

The V7M was developed by the original Unix Engineering Group (UEG) Fred Canter, Jerry Brenner, Armando Stettner, Bill Burns, Mary Anne Cacciola, and Bill Munson, but mostly by Fred and Jerry.

V7M included a lot of issues, including support for separate instructions and data fields, important work for hardware failure recovery, and many device drivers.

Much work has been done on many tape drives to produce a version that can be improved from reliable sources.

V7M was respected in the Unix community. UEG turned into the group that Ultrix later developed.

First Release

The first native UNIX VAX product since December was Ultrix-32 based on 4.2BSD with some System V features that are not integrated and was released in June 1984. Ultrix-32 was primarily the brain of Armando Stettner. Their aim was to provide VAX with a UNIX-compatible native version.

It also included a variety of changes and scripts from the Usenet/UUCP experience from running decvax. Ultrix-32 later added support for other proprietary DEC protocols such as DECnet and LAT. It was not compatible with VAXclustering.

Considering Occidental Electric/AT & T Unix licenses, it is limited to the sale of binary licenses only. An important part of the technical work was to make systems relatively flexible and configurable, despite their unique binary structure.

After completing the first phase of the beta client test of Ultrix-32, Armando moved to the west coast to help Steve Bourne get a quick start to the engineering organization of workstation systems, a development group focused on graphics and workstations.

From there he continued to help the establishment of the Open Software Foundation. Armando then worked with a very small group of angry organizations that emerged on December 1 as a product of the MIIS 3100-based DECstation RISC workstation.

Finally, it provided local Unix operating systems on three platforms: PDP-11 minicomputers, VAX-based computers, and DECstation workstations and DECsystem servers.

Please note that DECstation systems use MIPS processors and then precede Alpha-based systems.

Next Versions

The V7m product was later renamed Ultrix-11 to build the family with Ultrix-32, but it was simply known as Ultrix as PDP-11, which faded from the vision of Ultrix-32. When the Ultrix MIPS versions were released, the VAX and MIPS versions were specified as VAX/ULTRIX and RISC/ULTRIX, respectively.

A lot of emphases have been placed on supportability and reliable operations, including ongoing CPU operation and device driver support, hardware failure support and error message, document and system program levels, as well as general working text improvement and recovery on both grains.

Ultrix-32 later included some features of 4.3BSD and optionally included DECnet and SNA and both SMTP and Mail protocols, in addition to standard TCP/IP.

In particular, it implemented Interprocess Communication (IPC) capabilities in System V.

As Sun’s converging Unix and AT&T alliance appeared in late 1986, it took the best of System V and added it to the BSD base as it put its BSD features into System V.

Initially, on VAX workstations, based on a version of Ultrix-32, X Window System, UWS had a desktop environment called Ultrix Workstation software. Then, an expanded version 11 of the X Window System (X11) was added using a look and feel called DECwindows, designed to mimic the look and feel of the UWS system.

Finally, DECwindows also gave the motif look and feel. He worked on multiprocessor systems from both the VAX and DECsystem families.

Ultrix-32 supported Wire and CI peripherals Connecting SCSI drives and tapes, as well as proprietary Digital Storage Systems using Intermittent Storage Control Protocol, but the absence of OpenVMS distributed lock manager did not support concurrent system access for multiple Ultrix.

It also launched a combination hardware and software product called Prestoserv, which speeds up the Network Token System file for transmitting part of the file to the host for diskless workstations.

It supported symmetric multiprocessing without full multiple reading, based on the work of Armando Stettner and previous studies at George Goble’s Purdue University.

Therefore, the lock had liberal use, and some tasks could only be performed by certain CPUs. This was quite common in other SMP realizations of that time.

In addition, it was slow to support new and emerging Unix system capabilities, which suffered from several issues with competing Unix systems and primarily with file system integrity issues.

Latest Version

As part of its delivery to OSF, Armando Stettner traveled to the Cambridge Research Labs to work at the OSF/1 port at the DECstation-based RISC December 3100 workstation.

Then, in December, it ended the development of Unix on MIPS and VAX platforms as a Unix offer for OSF/1 for Alpha.

OSF/1 was previously shipped in a version for MIPS architecture in 1991 but was not considered a mature product or advertised. OSF/1 had a Mach-based grain with many features missing in Ultrix.

Again, UEG worked to make the new Unix OSF/1-based Digital well on December hardware with the reliability and sustainability that people expect from their operating systems.

The final major version of Ultrix was the 4.5 version in 1995, which supports all previously supported DECstations and VAXen.

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