Multics50: Multics in the Cloud

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Learn About Multics

Multics50 Background

The Multics50 Initiatives

Create a VM Multics Presence in the Cloud

Perhaps starting the day after the last Multics site shut down there has been a desire by many who used the system to boot it up again. Attempts were made to acquire license from the IP rights holder of Multics but to no avail. Finally in 2007 the source for the final Multics release was donated to MIT by its IP holder, Bull HN. The terms of the donation permit any use of the materials provided the copyright notices are preserved as stated. This makes possible half of the goal of running Multics. The other half is providing a platform upon which the code can run.

Several people have endeavored to provide a hardware platform for Multics. The efforts stalled when it became obvious that there would be no software to run on the hardware. Today, with the source code available, this roadblock is essentially removed. Additionally, state-of-the-art processor technology includes creating virtual machines of arbitrary processors and systems. Indeed, several for-profit companies sell products which comprise virtual processor farms of dozens to hundreds of processors. Within this context a strong argument can be made to create a virtual machine upon which Multics can run and place it in today's cloud with contemporary systems.

This initiative, then, has two parts. The first part is to create the Multics VM and the second part is to run a Multics image on it. The latter task is likely the more challenging, as it appears there are holes or breaks in the "ASCII-binary" available from the archives. Of course, writing a VM for a 36-bit word oriented mainframe processor is not a trivial task. Both of these tasks in creating running Multics system are in need of volunteers, especially if the delivery goal of fall 2015 (Multics fiftieth anniversary) is to be realized.

The reader is enthusiastically invited to join in this project. Please contact the site's coordinator for more information on how to join the effort.

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Copyright (c) 2014 by Michael A. Pandolfo [rev. cl140616a]