Fun with INTERACTIVE UNIX 3.0

(This is a guest post from Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)

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I’ve been hunting for a complete set of INTERACTIVE UNIX System for quite some time. While I had the “basic set” of it, the real stuff Visix Looking Glass graphical environment was nowhere to be found. Recently I got my hands on a box containing a massive set of 5.25″ floppy disks. Without further delay this is how the famous 386 UNIX GUI looks like:
The os has a long and convoluted history. It started as PC/IX for the IBM XT created by Interactive Systems Corporation. Later updated to 386/ix and renamed as INTERACTIVE UNIX System V/386. The company was acquired by Kodak and the OS was later sold to Sun Microsystems.
SunSoft INTERACTIVE UNIX 4.1
Sun has reportedly used the OS to help port SunOS/Solaris to x86 platform. However they also sold and supported it as a stand alone product. The system was widely used as part of Reuters Terminal and other embedded applications. It briefly survived Oracle acquisition making the os Oracle INTERACTIVE UNIX?

This article specifically covers version 3.0 released by ISC around 1991. The installation is pretty straightforward except for swapping 50 disk images and later configuration of NIC, TCP/IP and VGA/X11. The floppy images are available here. I have spent quite a lot of time to get TCP/IP working and VGA at half decent resolution.

Fortunately thanks to 86Box you can enjoy a fully working OS in a “high-res” (1024×768) mode, 256 colors and working TCP/IP. You can even pretend to browse the web using early version of Mosaic and WRP:

Looking Glass comes with a file manager and funky icons for pretty much every utility in the system:

The OS has a bunch of GNU apps and I even found a super early version of xv:

Finally this is how you manage the system with a “sysadm” utility and “kconfig” kernel configurator:

On a text console side, the OS has virtual consoles switchable via SYSRQ + F key. Console is on F8.

One should probably appreciate that PC had such a cool Unix version before Linux was even born. Unfortunately this stuff was all prohibitively expensive and mortals could not afford it to run on their 386s.

You can download 86Box version here. Make sure to look at readme for some last minute updates. Especially around configuring TCP/IP and Looking Glass licensing. There also is a VirtualBox OVA, however it only works in 800×600 and no networking/tcpip. Additional software can be downloaded from funet ftp. Install disks are here.

Also you may be interested in more in-depth look at the VP/ix DOS hypervisor included with the os.

Have Fun With Virtualization!