I migrated from Arch Linux two months ago and have found that it’s been the best switch I’ve made in several years. I’ll shamelessly paste some relevant points from a previous comment I made:
Well, this looks ugly. Time to open a PR on jcs/lobsters. :-)
Actual PDF source from 1997 http://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/doc/newsletter/issue1.pdf
Wow, this is quite a historical gem! That server on page 3 looks like it has a microwave sitting near the top rack. :-)
Also “today we have over 50 servers running various versions of 2.1 STABLE.” was a giveaway to the age of the article. Not to mention the html page is full of Geocities markup.
I am fascinated by the architecture of these early internet search engines (AltaVista’s early 1996 systems are on Wikipedia here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AltaVista). It’s amazing that they were able to do so much with so little memory and CPU. I wonder if any of this old code has survived? What amount of code was written in C? What was written in Perl? Were other languages used back then? Perhaps someone (Jason Scott/ArchiveTeam?) will uncover some old 100mb zip disk with old code someday. I think that kind of thing would be a lot of fun to read.
Keep in mind they were working with a far smaller corpus on the internet, and their algorithms far simpler than modern search engines today. In that case, it’s not just page-rankings, but also natural language queries.
AltaVista was running on beefy AlphaServers AFAIK - it was DEC.