[TUHS] dmr note on BSD's sins

Steve Johnson scj at yaccman.com
Wed May 3 02:11:52 AEST 2017

I recall a paper Dennis wrote (maybe more like a note) that was titled
     echo -c considered harmful
(I think it was -c).   It decried the tendency, now completely out
of control, for everybody and their dog to piddle on perfectly good
code just because it's "open". 

Let's face it, programming languages today are more like shells --
they rise or fall on the quality of their libraries, and the
expression of algorithms (or even simplicity or efficiency) are
secondary.  And operating systems seem to exist mainly to host window
systems that vie for how deeply and obscurely they can hide vital
options, and pride themselves that striking any key at any time, no
matter how inadvertent, will cause some unexpected and unwanted

I'm reminded of a friend of mine who took a math course, and said that
the professor "proved theorems by induction on the number of lemmas".

And yes, I'm sounding like a grumpy old fart this morning...


----- Original Message -----
From: "Toby Thain" <toby at telegraphics.com.au>
To:<tuhs at minnie.tuhs.org>
Sent:Mon, 1 May 2017 14:09:07 -0400
Subject:Re: [TUHS] dmr note on BSD's sins

 On 2017-05-01 1:25 PM, ron minnich wrote:
 > OK, I recall a note dmr wrote probably in the late 70s/early 80s
 > folks at UCB had (iirc) extended the symbol name size in C programs
 > essentially unlimited. This followed on (iirc) file names going
 > 14 characters.
 > The rough outline was that dmr was calling out the revisions for
 > too general, and the phrase "BSD sins" sticks in my head (sins as a
 > I'm reminded of this by something that happened with some interns
 > recently, as they wanted to make something immensely complex to
cover a
 > case that basically never happened. I was trying to point out that
 > can go overboard on that sort of thing, and it would have been nice
 > have such a quote handy -- anyone else remember it?

 Not what you're looking for, but in recent times we'd just say YAGNI
 You Ain't Gonna Need It.


 > ron

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