[Wolves] Fri^WSaturday Fun

chris procter chris-procter at talk21.com
Sun Jan 28 16:17:55 GMT 2007

> > Name a program that by choice or fate, you rely
> on. List three aspects
> > of it that you like most and three that annoy you
> most. Finally give a
> > verdict - overall, do you love it or hate it.

I going to bend the rules slightly from "a program" to
a set of programs but I couldn't think of enough bad
things about 'ls' by itself:-

The shell. Its what makes unix unix, its what first
turned me on to unix/linux, the reason my first
computer was linux rather then a mac, and in its many
varied guises its a tool that I have used everyday for
the last 9 years.

1. Is there nothing it cannot do?? unix was used
purely  from the command line for 15+ years before X
was developed so pretty much anything you would want
to do with a computer you can do with the shell, and
if you think of something new then its easy to write a
plugin (a.k.a. utilities, tools or programs) to do it
for you.

2.Scripting. The ability to combine commands into
files, with a full programming language available, so
complex procedures can be scripted easily. This must
be one of the biggest time savers ever invented for
any computer system.

3. An implementation exists on every* unix box ever
made, and now for OSX and (with cygwin) for windows
making it the nearest thing to a universal interface
there is.

(*) ok so I'm sure someone can come up with an
embedded device that doesn't, but for general purpose
unix boxes this is true.

The bad.
1. Inconsistant syntax. Every shell has slightly
different syntax, and every utility has slightly
different options so knowing your way round the man
pages or having access to O'Reillys Unix/Linux In A
Nutshell is essential. 

2. Inconsistant data formats. Different utilities
output their results in different ways and take
different inputs, so if you want to feed data from one
to another you quite often have to do a lot of
reformating work. Some things uses tabs to format
their output, some multiple spaces, this matters if
your trying to write a script to get the total size of
all the .txt files for example.

3. Its elitist and old fashioned. Or so I'm told. This
means its fallen out of favour with most developers.
Coupled with the inertia of a 30 year old, proven,
design means no work is being done on fixing 1 & 2.

So in conclusion, the shell rocks and Xwindows exists
primarily to allow you to use multiple shell sessions
at the same time.

Mind you I've always been a Luddite at heart.


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