[TUHS] man-page style

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Sat Nov 17 08:24:35 AEST 2018

On Fri, Nov 16, 2018 at 4:40 PM Jon Steinhart <jon at fourwinds.com> wrote:

> Emacs sort of violates my UNIX-sense as it does many things instead of
> doing one thing well.
Exactly -- the idea is emacs is its own 'system' and you need to view the
world through it.

The funny thing is I had learned emacs >>before<< ed when I was PDP-10
hacking (i.e when it was a set of TECO macros).  But ed for UNIX, was what
we had and I learned it.   It got the job done.  I was happy.    When emacs
later appeared on UNIX, it really was not any better than what I had.. I
could use both, but I quickly discovered I did not want to be inside of
emacs all the time on UNIX (too slow and cranky).  Since I followed the old
UNIX rule of 'type of the cshell and program the bourne'   -- I was
unwilling to give into the emacs way, it made no sense to me to continue.
I'm happy for those that like it and hey to each her/his own.

As was discussed a few days ago in the ed/qed history -- ed was fine.  And
UNIX was SO much faster than the PDP-10s to do almost anything I wanted to
do.   And, when 'fred' and other video front ends for ed appeared, they
made perfect sense - they were just ed with some way to move the 'soft'
cursor since it was video not paper.  They too were fast and simple.  Which
really was no different than the vi subcommand for ex, when it came along
(FWIW: fred was the Cornell video front end for ed that I first saw on 6th
edition I think, although it might have been 5th edition.   Fred was 'hard
coded' for the few terminals we had - DEC vt52, PE 'fox, and the Lear
Siegler ADM3A').  I switched to vi later really because of termcap and ease
of adding terminal support.

But really the issue is that info introduced a new interface on a system
> that already had one that people were accustomed to.  This is something
> that perpetually annoys me in the software world; people introducing new
> ways of doing things that aren't improvements, just different.  Just makes
> life harder for everyone else.
The rule of 'least astonishment' -- instead of making UNIX like ITS or
whatever, 'info' seems like it is trying to force a new world on to someone
because that programmer likes some other way bettter. i.e.

I would not have minded having the 'info' interface so much if Gnu had kept
'man' as the high order bit and created the 'info' pages by 'mining' the
man ones -- *i.e.* offering a second interface to the same information.
But instead, they tried to force people to use 'info' instead of man and
left the rela information out of man - trying to force you to their
perfered interface.   The believe that under the rule of 'Gnu is not Unix'
- rms felt licensed to do so.  Except the Gnu >>team<< cloned the UNIX
interface and all of the UNIX tools - hence violating the rule of least

I think this is not a lot different than saying since Gnu is not Unix, we
want a different (better) interface and we will not use read/write -- in
Gnu we will have open/close/mmap ---  just think what what have happenned.
 Not saying it might not have been 'better' but it would not have been
'Unix' -- same 'license' - Gnu is Not Unix -- but code would not have
worked.    So instead rms tries to force a new human interface and guess
what, you have to reprogram a lot of people.

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