In 1994 there were like 150 third party applications available for COHERENT 4.2. Most were commercial, copyrighted products and can't be made available, but I can write a bit about the history, as far as I was involved.

MWC had copies of all this products available, tech support used them to help customers to install and configure the stuff. In development we used the applications to improve the binary compatibility of COHERENT and as regression tests, if improved versions of the operating system would break anything.

At this time I was reading Intel's iBCS2 manual forth and back to improve kernel calls and library functions for compatibility, so that stuff running on Interactive UNIX would work the same on COHERENT.

GNU tools:

In 1993 there was an increasing demand for running GNU software on COHERENT. Besides the GNU compilers users mostly asked for emacs, perl, bash, so I just got many of the GNU tools from available at this time. Building was pretty much straightforward with the newly ported and complete GNU development toolchain.

Right from the beginning I decided to build all the GNUish stuff on an own filesystem, to avoid any conflicts with other existing software. Fortunately GNU configure already supported this with an option ./configure --prefix=/some/directory.

Interestingly you'll find similar mechanisms on modern systems. Several Linux systems provide a command alternatives, that allows to install and switch between software from different vendors with same functionality. Also the brew package management for OSX builds applications in the Cellar and sets symbolic links to the builds in /usr/local.

On COHERENT we had no symbolic links, so I implemented this by using different paths, which can be setup and switched as needed. On the 4.2 systems /etc/profile has shell functions MWC and GNU that are used to switch environments.


You might know that I wrote a visual shell for UNIX systems named vsh, if not you can mess with it under COHERENT 4.2. My colleagues at MWC liked the program and so it was included with the 4.2 distributions. Here also a screenshot how it looks like:

VisualShell for COHERENT

You have no idea how many request I got to make it working more like the famous xtree DOS program ;-) Sorry folks, I was not interested in programming a xtree clone, I wanted to implement my own ideas about how a visual shell for UNIX systems should work. Also xtree was available for UNIX systems, so no point in cloning it.

If you bought a COHERENT 4.2 OS in 1994 from MWC you got a free copy of xtree in a bundle. At MWC we also got it, of course I was curious about it and installed it on my systems to have a look. I still have my copy, so I installed it again on a COHERENT VM, here is a screenshot how it looks like:

Xtree for COHERENT

Of course xtree was a copyrighted commercial third party product, so I can't make it available here. However, the product was continued under the new name UnixTree as Open Source, you can grab it here.

Answer Software & Consulting X11R5:

ASC Xkernel


ASC X11R5 Open Look

OSF Motif:

In 1993 Sun Microsystems and AT&T announced that they would drop Open Look and move to OSF Motif. What followed was a rush to get Motif implemented on all the X11 workstations available at that time. I was contacted by Sequoia International, Inc., if I could help with a good working GNU development toolchain for COHERENT. Of course I could, I send them a tape with /u1/gnu, and eventually OSF Motif was announced. In return they send me a copy of their Motif implementation for COHERENT, which I still have. In 2017 I installed it again on a Virtualbox VM running COHERENT 4.2 + RTR/MWC X11R5, here a screenshot how it looks like:

OSF Motif

The screenshot shows one of the example programs included in Motif distributions, animated GUI widgets was one of the interesting new features to play with. The look and feel of the Motif GUI was copied by many others and we basically still use it on nowadays modern systems. Of course this is a commercial product, so I cannot make it available, but nowadays OSF Motif is Open Source and it could be build from the released sources.