[TUHS] Happy birthday, Dennis Ritchie! [ really sun vs dec/apollo --> X and NeWS ]

Steve Johnson scj at yaccman.com
Fri Sep 15 05:37:59 AEST 2017

I'm not aware of any profanity per se in the early Unix sources, but
there certainly were some snarky error messages.   Like "eh?"   Or
"Very Funny".  I contributed a few: "gummy structure".

I've become truly PO'd at the state of error messages in today's
software.   Things like "file error" or "cannot open file" without
telling you what file was being opened.   And every encounter with
git gives me additional fodder.  The information in many of git's
error messages is roughly one bit, that is best translated with

I wrote a paper on error messages at one point.  I had examples from
bad to best.  In a nutshell (worst to best):

	* <program aborts, leaving the world in an unknown state>
	* "internal error",  "beta table overflow", "operation failed"
	* "Writing the output file failed"
	* "File xxx could not be opened for writing."
	* "File xxx could not be opened for writing: check the file location
and permissions"

	* "Writing the output file xxx caused an error.  See <link> for
possible reasons and corrections" 

Most git messages fall between 2 and 3.  But there are occasional 4's
and 5's.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Henry Bent" <henry.r.bent at gmail.com>
To:"The Eunuchs Hysterical Society" <tuhs at tuhs.org>
Sent:Wed, 13 Sep 2017 20:18:06 -0400
Subject:Re: [TUHS] Happy birthday, Dennis Ritchie! [ really sun vs
dec/apollo --> X and NeWS ]

Were there really that many comments that needed censoring?  It would
be nice to have the idealism to think of Sun as a freewheeling,
uncensored alternative to the corporate structure of DEC and IBM, but
having seen the "released" source for the early '90s Unix operating
systems of all three I never saw anything to indicate that there were
censored inline curses anywhere.  If anything, the DEC sources are
now more informational by virtue of still having a mostly complete
changelog in the header.


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