[TUHS] What was your "Aha, Unix!" moment?

Sean Dwyer ewe2 at ewe2.ninja
Mon Oct 21 06:12:19 AEST 2019

On Sun, Oct 20, 2019 at 03:25:52PM -0400, Norman Wilson wrote:
> That's more or less what it was like to me.  Not so much
> an aha! moment, more just a feeling of coming home.  It
> took a while to understand the different way things worked
> in UNIX (I had previously used TOPS-10 for several years)
> but as it all sank in it felt more and more right.

Up to my 30s I had only vaguely known about computers, it definitely wasn't my
thing, I was a musician. But one day I found myself buying a $3k Packard Bell
486, learnt DOS and began buying CD-ROMS with software often taken straight
off the big ftp sites. That is how I discovered Unix and how much better than
DOS it was. Within a year (1994) I was running my own Linux system. There was
a lot of stuff being ported from Solaris and the BSDs and I was learning C
just to build utilities I wanted, but if there was a 'killer app' for me that
was the aha! moment, it was a close contest between adventure and ching.

The odd thing was that adventure was certainly playable, but ching only
existed as a weird hybrid of shell script and two C programs and used some
kind of manpage macros and I didn't understand why but I loved it. That was my
introduction really to the Unix tools philosophy and suddenly the way my Linux
system worked made sense. Being also a history buff I wanted to know how this
all happened and that led to Don Libes and Life With Unix and my fate was

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise as they fly by.

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