[cap-talk] MLS gone bad - now capabilities? (was: NCSC TCSEC)
Jonathan S. Shapiro
shap at eros-os.com
Wed Nov 29 14:21:14 CST 2006
On Fri, 2006-11-10 at 06:08 -0500, Bill Tulloh wrote:
> This is why GNOSIS/KeyKOS intrigues me. It was a commercially funded
> investment in a secure operating system, exactly the sort of thing
> that the TCSEC was supposed to encourage, but failed to deliver....
Yes and no. In it's later days, KeyKOS was a commercially funded
operating system. Period, full stop. At the time, the success of UNIX
remained uncertain. I don't know that Omron had any interest in security
at all -- perhaps one of the Key Logic folks can comment.
And you should be careful with the past tense there, since as of two
months ago there are now *three* second-round SBIR-funded efforts based
on derivatives of the KeyKOS technology: one on Landau's CapROS
continuation of EROS and the other two around my own Coyotos successor.
These amount to $2.5m (including the first rounds) over a roughly two
year total period. Our group, and I believe Charlie's, both anticipate
serious commercial deployments.
> What seems to have done KeyKOS in was not problems with the
> capability-approach but the failure of time-sharing.
On this I can speak from some personal experience. Ann Hardy and I tried
repeatedly to license KeyKOS from Tom O'Rourke (O'Rourke Investments).
Ann eventually obtained a research license. Tom simply didn't respond to
my efforts at all, and eventually the issue became moot.
What did KeyKOS in wasn't a technical issue, but a failure of financing.
Key Logic took one too many financial bullets at the wrong time,
following which Tom O'Rourke was unwilling or unable to let it succeed
-- or at least, that was so when he was sober enough to have an opinion.
Tom was supported in this sad state by a collection of former Key Logic
directors who were incredibly greedy-stupid. I have always assumed, from
various side comments that were made at the time, that Tom never
understood the transition from mainframes to microcomputers and
collaborated in that obstruction. In hindsight, I don't know if Tom was
actively on the side of obstruction or merely trapped by the greed of
his board of directors.
The lesson here is that even a perfect technology is only 1% of a
product. You need good luck and good financing as well.
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