[TUHS] Charles Forsyth on putting Unix on a diet.

Doug McIlroy doug at cs.dartmouth.edu
Fri Oct 27 00:57:48 AEST 2017


As an admirer of minimalism, who has given talks that extol
Norman Wilson's streamlining of research Unix, I naturally
like Forsythe's thesis.

I noticed unintended irony in one more or less throw-away remark:
"It is dangerous to place too much hope in any improvement coming from just
following new fashions, if we lack insight into what really went wrong
before. Without that insight, I suspect that rewriting UNIX in C++,
for example, could easily become an excuse for increasing complexity
(because by using C++ `we can handle more complexity')."

Bjarne Stroustrup's avowed reason for building cfront, which 
evolved into C++, was to have a tool for building an operating
system in object-oriented style. The tool took on a life of
its own, and arguably became more complex than the old-fashioned
Unix he aspired to improve on.

Doug


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