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

Will Senn will.senn at gmail.com
Sat Oct 26 08:11:08 AEST 2019

On 10/25/19 3:58 PM, John S Quarterman wrote:
> Manual small enough to pick up. Man pages for each program. IO simple 
> and made sense. -jsq
> On Thu, Oct 10, 2019 at 4:56 PM Warren Toomey <wkt at tuhs.org 
> <mailto:wkt at tuhs.org>> wrote:
>     All, we had another dozen TUHS suscribers to the list overnight.
>     Welcome.
>     A reminder that we're here to discuss Unix Heritage, so I'll nudge you
>     if the conversation goes a bit off-topic.
>     So I'll kick off another thread. What was your "ahah" moment when you
>     first saw that Unix was special, especially compared to the
>     systems you'd
>     previously used?
>     Mine was: Oh, I can:
>       + write a simple script
>       + to edit a file on the fly
>       + with no temporary files (a la pipes)
>       + AND I can change the file suffix and the system won't stop me!
>     I was using TOPS-20 beforehand.
>     Cheers, Warren
I've been watching this thread and thinking to myself, what was my 
personal aha moment?

I guess it came to me in 1993 when I downloaded Patrick Volkerding's 
magnificent 11 floppy labor of love via my amazingly fast 300 baud modem 
attached to the University of Texas at Arlington's VMS system with a 
gateway to the internet. After many weeks of trying, I eventually got 
Slackware downloaded and burned to floppies. After booting up and after 
another couple of weeks of configuration frustration, I was able to run 
X on my machine and while it would be another decade before I switched 
over permanently, I never got over how much more powerful *nix was than 
anything I'd been exposed to and way more interesting than Windows 3 
which was prevalent at the time. I was a C programmer back then and to 
have access to a system that was predicated on the language was awesome.

Then In 2005, I bought a powerbook with my bonus, I learned you could 
have your cake (beautiful gui - thank you Next) and eat it too (thank 
you FreeBSD) and after that you couldn't pay me enough to ever switch 
back to windows :).

Then, In 2019, I downloaded Mint 19.2 Tina Cinnamon 64 bit edition to my 
$300 Lenovo Thinkpad T430, installed zfsutils and marveled at how far 
linux has come.

Oh, wait! Last week, I...

But seriously, I am constantly surprised at how Unix underpins so much 
of my computing happiness. Gone are the doldrums of blue screens, 
stoopid command lines, even stoopider menus, microsoft bob's, and paper 
clip wizards,. Every time I move a mouse in the classroom and windows 
shows up, I shudder. Then I calmly connect my hdmi cable from my laptop 
to the projector, breathe a sigh of relief, and fire up my 
Mac/Linux/FreeBSD/Unix v6/v7/v0 environment and show my students what it 
means to be free :).

OK, so technically speaking these aren't exactly Unix recollections, but 
they are certainly dependent on their Unix forebears and wouldn't exist 
without that heritage.

Thank you Unix pioneers for making such a fun (something new to learn 
every day) system. Oh, and thanks for the file metaphor, and thanks for 
vi, best editor ever, and for C, and and and...



GPG Fingerprint: 68F4 B3BD 1730 555A 4462  7D45 3EAA 5B6D A982 BAAF

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://minnie.tuhs.org/pipermail/tuhs/attachments/20191025/d1183d4e/attachment.html>

More information about the TUHS mailing list