I've always read that Multics was a failed precurser of Unix, and was interested in seeing how it looks (as in, what features did Unix remove that Multics had, and did more modern Unixen bring them back when hardware improved).

Multics code was open sourced since then, but I haven't found any isos or imgs there, nor do I see any building instructions.

Are there ISOs of Multics available?

  • 3
    By ISOs you mean CD images? ;)
    – el.pescado
    Jul 6 '18 at 6:39
  • 3
    The notion that Multics was a failed precursor to UNIX is most fictitious. Mostly, AT&T worked on MULTICS for a while, and then decided to pull out of the project. I guess from the AT&T perspective, that qualified it as a "failure", but in fact others continued and finished the project, and it continued to be used for quite a long time (decades). Jul 6 '18 at 16:55
  • 1
    The question "are there ISOs" sounds like "are there installable ports to modern commodity hardware"? Jul 6 '18 at 17:23
  • @rackandboneman The "ISO" is called root.dsk in s3.amazonaws.com/eswenson-multics/public/releases/MR12.6f/…
    – Polluks
    Mar 19 '20 at 10:05

There are a number of ways to use Multics today.

One option is to run it locally under an emulator. The source code that's available should run (under emulation) on most Linux systems, Mac OS X, and Windows, even the RasPi. See the Multicians site for details (a cookbook is available).

Another option is to telnet (or ssh) to a public access system. I don't know of any ones running on original hardware1 (IIRC a few years back there were two on the 'net, one in Texas and one in Germany). One current system that I know of (running emulated on a Xeon server) is at ssh dps8@m.trnsz.com or telnet m.trnsz.com Login using login Guest To log out use logout For more info see the website

The Living Computer Museum in Seattle also has a Multics system but (apart from the front panel) it is entirely emulated.

1 The last Multics site on original, physical hardware went offline in 2000.

  • Oh, for those who struggle to quit the telnet session, just use logout command.
    – Ruslan
    Jul 6 '18 at 14:48
  • Or for those whose ssh clients lack an escape sequence... Jul 6 '18 at 16:17

Yes. The dps8m emulator simulates the GE-645 machines well enough to run Multics. The open-sourced code has been successfully run under the emulator. There's even a getting started guide with some bugfixes, meant specifically to be run under the emulator.

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