[TUHS] How Unix brings people together, or it's a small

Steve Johnson scj at yaccman.com
Wed Feb 8 09:38:40 AEST 2017

Looking back, the social dynamics of the Unix group helped a lot in
keeping the bloat small.   The rule was, whoever touches something
last becomes its owner.  Of course, we were all free to complain
about things, and did, but the amalgamation of tinkerings that
characterizes most of the Linux commands just didn't happen.  At
times this hot-potato activity worked very well.  In a moment of
inspiration I thought up the syntax for the 'at' command  (  "at 3am
cc -o *.c", etc. ).  I implemented it as a shell script and it was
pretty feeble.  My implementation lasted about a week -- I came in on
a Monday and Dennis had plugged the majority of the holes -- got the
permissions right, saved the search path and current directory, etc. 
I think we were both happy with the process...

I think the other thing we understood was that if you added an on/off
option to your application you had a choice of either doing twice as
much testing as previously, or testing both configurations of the code
half as much.   If you look at the gcc manual, you can see the
result -- many dozen pages just listing the options.  It's probably
up around the age of the universe now to reliably test the whole
thing.   And it seems like if you set the options differently than
usual, thing break, can't be debugged reliably, or something else
surprising.  One rule with Linux: do it vanilla or go home...


----- Original Message -----
 "Clem Cole" <clemc at ccc.com>

"Marc Rochkind" <rochkind at basepath.com>
"TUHS main list" <tuhs at minnie.tuhs.org>
Tue, 7 Feb 2017 18:10:52 -0500
Re: [TUHS] How Unix brings people together, or it's a small

And I think it has been peed on by many different people trying to
leave their own mark on it along the way.

On Mon, Feb 6, 2017 at 11:06 PM, Marc Rochkind <rochkind at basepath.com
Of course. Linux is:

1. old,
2. designed by a huge group,
3. intended to serve many purposes

UNIX was, at least in its early days, the opposite in all three ways.
But, after 15 years or so, it also was numbers 1 - 3. (Speaking of
System V here.)

There have been OSes that remained beautifully sleek and uncluttered
forever. Such as BeOS. However, all such systems failed to achieve
critical mass. Which is why they remained true.

No way out of this trap.


On Mon, Feb 6, 2017 at 8:03 PM, Doug McIlroy <doug at cs.dartmouth.edu

 >  Lots of commands are now little shells
 > Linux today is much more like the systems
 > Unix displaced than it is like Unix

 So depressingly true!



[1] mailto:rochkind at basepath.com
[2] mailto:doug at cs.dartmouth.edu

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