[TUHS] [OT] Re: earliest Unix roff

Jon Steinhart jon at fourwinds.com
Fri Sep 20 06:39:31 AEST 2019

Arthur Krewat writes:
> Serious question:
> Which is better, creating a whole new binary to put in /usr/bin to do a 
> single task, or add a flag to cat?
> Which is better, a proliferation of binaries w/standalone source code, 
> or a single code tree that can handle slightly different tasks and save 
> space?
> :)
> art k.
> PS: Using argv[0] (as in a symbolic link) to alter a program's behavior 
> instead of using flags is cheating on the above test.

I would argue the first.  In the case of current linux cat, I would make a
separate utility to number lines, a separate utility to squeeze out repeated
empty blank lines, a separate utility to show non printing characters that
might have an option to select the characters that would encompass -T.  All of
these are useful utilities by themselves.  Someone using a particular combo of
options a lot can always write their own scripts or use aliases.  That's the
beauty of composability.


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