Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
It's funny.  Laugh.

Unix-Haters Handbook Available Online 760

prostoalex writes "The Unix-Haters Handbook, publication year 1994, is now available online for free as a single PDF file. Apparently some suburban Seattle company has agreed to host this 3.5MB file on its servers. The anti-foreword is written by no other but Dennis Ritchie, who proclaims: 'Here is my metaphor: your book is a pudding stuffed with apposite observations, many well-conceived. Like excrement, it contains enough undigested nuggets of nutrition to sustain life for some. But it is not a tasty pie: it reeks too much of contempt and of envy.'" This is what should happen to more out-of-print books.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Unix-Haters Handbook Available Online

Comments Filter:
  • Windows Hater Book, Entry 1.

    A "32-bit multi-threaded Operating System" which freezes for 30 seconds while Adobe Reader 5.0 starts up and downloads a 3.5 MB pdf .

    I guess it is multi-threaded. I mean, I could wiggle the hourglass.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      heh-heh! the gui IS the kernel. the most funny part I read about this was a description of microsoft trying to make a server 2k3 command-line version. "but then you won't be able to use the printing system b/c you need to use all the device drawing stuff ... oh well, we'll keep on trying" . these guys never seem to learn now, do they :-D
      • What I'd like to see is a command line oriented embedded OS. Ok, I'd probally not use it being it came from MS but I mean that'd be useful for things that don't have any kind of display screen.
  • by Tri0de ( 182282 ) <> on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:18PM (#5817163) Journal
    I nearly pissed myself when I read this:

    "I liken starting one's computing career with Unix, say as an undergraduate,
    to being born in East Africa. It is intolerably hot, your
    body is covered with lice and flies, you are malnourished and you
    suffer from numerous curable diseases. But, as far as young East
    Africans can tell, this is simply the natural condition and they live
    within it. By the time they find out differently, it is too late. They
    already think that the writing of shell scripts is a natural act."
    -- Ken Pier, Xerox PARC'

    • by mindriot ( 96208 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @06:34AM (#5818435)

      There are quite some interesting points in that book. It reads:

      Try logging in with all capitals. Many Unix systems will still switch to an all-caps mode. Weird.

      I just tried that on my Debian/testing system - and yes, that still works!

      Debian GNU/Linux testing/unstable hek512 tty2

      hek512 login: JAN
      LAST LOGIN: SUN APR 27 12:07:13 2003 ON :0
      LINUX HEK512 2.4.20 #1 WED MAR 26 13:15:58 CET 2003 I686 UNKNOWN UNKNOWN GNU/LINUX


      NO MAIL.
      JAN@HEK512:~> LS

      That was quite a laugh - I really learned something about our Operating System from the Seventies today :-)

      • by spitzak ( 4019 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @01:18PM (#5819797) Homepage
        Terminal driver design is certainly a stupid part of Unix. Back when this was written there certainly was a serious mess of terminals which would actually fail non-gracefully on output designed for other terminals.

        But this is not true today. Today EVERY SINGLE TERMINAL IN THE WORLD understands ANSI escape sequences at full speed and will not choke (and will likely display) on all ISO-8859-1 characters. It is time to scrap every single option in the editing portion of the terminal driver. And start accepting *both* ^H and ^? as backspace.

        I would agree that in this area, morbid fear of being incompatable is completely freezing development. Sometimes advancement is achieved by DELETING code, not just by adding it. Just to be sure Windows also has this, why the hell are "text" files still different from binary (hint to Gates: make the READER ignore ^M and remove all stuff from the writer, and "text" files will be gone in a week. Until MicroSoft can figure out this simple step, they have no right to insult Unix for it's equally-stupid things).

  • Worth Reading (Score:5, Interesting)

    by weston ( 16146 ) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:20PM (#5817172) Homepage
    Ritchie's assesment is correct -- it does reek of contempt, but definitely bred of familiarity. :) So you can expect some "it's funny because it's true" moments of laughter, or "I did that" commiseration.

    The other good reason to read it... you get a reminder about offshoots of technology, directions things could have gone. It's not a bad idea to look back in the corners for good ideas.

    At least, that's what this 15 year UNIX user (who just keeps coming back for more) thinks.

  • by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:20PM (#5817175) Homepage
    This might be on Microsoft's servers, but it's in Daniel Weise's private webspace (he being one of the three authors). No, this is not an unsubtle attempt at pro-windows propaganda.
  • by WillAdams ( 45638 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:21PM (#5817176) Homepage
    (I know, 'cause I sent in the note which it listed there ;)

    That's, for those who aren't familiar with this wonderful site.

    It lists a number of other out-of-print books which're of interest to geeks (and some which are in print such as the .tex source (which one may not process save under specific circumstances) for _The TeXBook_ and _The METAFONT Book_ by Dr. Donald E. Knuth). Books of interest include:

    _Unix Text Processing_
    Norman Walsh's _Making TeX Work_ (which is on Sourceforge)
    Eckel's book on programming Java
    and for those with kids, _The Great Logo Adventure_

  • ...the best part of the foreword:

    "As for me? I switched to the Mac. No more grep, no more piping, no more SED scripts."
    • "As for me? I switched to the Mac. No more grep, no more piping, no more SED scripts."

      No more automating of tasks that you can't find a GUI to do for you ...

      Click Click Click drag type click click click click Click Click Click drag reboot click click click click drag drop Click Click Click drag click click click click drag drop Click Click Click drag click click click click type drag drop Click Click Click drag click click click click drag drop Click Click Click drag click type click click click drag

      • Re:Oh the irony... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WillAdams ( 45638 )
        Reminds me of once at work---a publisher added a page to a chapter which ended on a left, meaning that all the following pages had to be incremented by 2---not that big a deal, even in Quark XPress (and trivial in the books which I do using TeX or FrameMaker), except that the index had already been done. While everyone else in the shop was busy trying to figure out how many people would have to be diverted to manually updating the index I dumped it to Quark XPress Tags, copied that to my Mac running Mac OS
  • by radon28 ( 593565 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:27PM (#5817201)
    "As for me? I switched to the Mac. No more grep, no more piping, no more SED scripts.. "

    Oh well. I guess he really can't escape Unix.
  • by coene ( 554338 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:27PM (#5817202)
    From the Preface:

    Modern Unix is a catastrophe. It's the "Un-Operating System": unreliable, unintuitive, unforgiving, unhelpful, and underpowered.

    Now, who has the URL to that Microsoft company picture from the 70's where everyone looks high?
    • This one? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
  • Go Figure (Score:5, Informative)

    by cscx ( 541332 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:30PM (#5817211) Homepage
    Dennis Ritchie himself uses Windows NT []...
    • Re:Go Figure (Score:3, Informative)

      by dAzED1 ( 33635 )
      "My own environment (on PC hardware) actually runs Windows NT, but it is used mainly as a graphics terminal connected to a Plan 9 server, in a way approximately analogous to an X windows client."

      Eh? so what. SOme of us don't think of unix as a place to do gui, but instead as a place to do work ;)

    • Re:Go Figure (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Darth ( 29071 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @04:23AM (#5818231) Homepage
      He uses windows NT to connect to a Plan 9 server. The Plan 9 server is where the work is happening. his NT server is mostly a gui terminal.

      Also, he's in management now. He needs the NT box so he can read all the microsoft format documents he has to interact with for work.

      he mentions these things on the link you, posted. Were you being intentionally misleading, or did you just not read it?
  • by Saint Aardvark ( 159009 ) * on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:31PM (#5817218) Homepage Journal
    Google to the rescue...

    Simson Garfinkel [] eventually became a hermit and withdrew from public life after too many people mistook him for Art Garfunkel. He now lives in a cave in southern California.

    Daniel Weise [] went on to work at Microsoft. He distinguished himself as the first non-Samoan to ever pick up Bob Barker after winning the Showcase Showdown on "The Price Is Right."

    Steve Straussman (no website, sorry -- anyone?) left the Unix-Hater's list after it was revealed that he had fallen in love with a woman who loved Unix. He has come to terms with the past, and now teaches "How to Shell Script in Linux" classes at his local community college.

    John Klossner [] went on to a successful career making cartoons for Lucas' Skywalker Sound company newsletter, until fired for printing one that suggested an unnatural intimacy between Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca.

    Donald Norman [] won the coveted "Golden C< Prompt" award and retired from public life.

    Dennis Ritchie [] became something of a celebrity on the web for his many and varied contributions of photos to [].

    Scott Burson [] became a monk and moved to Iceland.

    Don Hopkins [] ran for office in Lousiana and lost. He is now a semi-successful insurance salesman, and plays harmonica regularly.

    That was all I could find out about -- anyone got any more?

    • Seriously, Simson Garfinkel is now a student, and as such is entering his way cool program sBook (see for downloads for Mac OS X and Windows---sadly the NeXTstep version isn't given away or maintained any longer, the Windows port is done w/ an older version of the QT library and won't work w/ Pen Services for Windows, crashes) in Apple's Developer's Contest this year.

  • Ironic (Score:5, Funny)

    by camt ( 162536 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:32PM (#5817220) Homepage
    I find it ironic that in the forward he mentions he switched to a mac to avoid cryptic UNIX things like grep and pipes, etc.

    Now Mac OS X is based on UNIX!
  • by nuintari ( 47926 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:33PM (#5817228) Homepage
    I would care about the server getting slashdotted, but since its microsoft's bandwidth, and this is slashdot, I feel compelled to be a dick and not volunteer a mirror.

    Microsoft has more bandwidth than god anyways.
    • the homepage for the book is on a Microsoft server but the pdf is on a small server where space was donated... this is mentioned in the slashdot blurb but then again who even reads the post let alone the article.
  • slashdotted (Score:2, Funny)

    by zapp ( 201236 )
    Since when was it a good idea to post a link to a 3.5mb file hosted on a small suburban server on slashdot? :)
  • It's a good read (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:37PM (#5817236) Homepage
    I actually have it in paperback form, and it comes with a Unix barfbag. A lot of the points made in the book are still quite valid, but a lot of them are things that have been fixed in the last 10 years. When placed at the appropriate time, you have to realize that it does a decent job of describing the worst parts of Unix from the views of VMS users, among others. Like /., it makes no pretense of being a balanced view.

    My main gripe is that they confuse the Internet with Unix. So an entire chapter is devoted to Usenet. That was written before spam, I'm sure the author would be able to write even more vitriol in that category.

    I'd love to see it updated, particularly given that so many of the gripes have been addressed and fixed in the world of FS/OSS.

    Probably my favorite quote that really needs an update: "Unix was no designed for the Mac." (page 18 of the PDF)

  • by IvyMike ( 178408 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:38PM (#5817243)

    I read this book when it came out, when I was just a mere youth in the world of Unix. I actually learned a lot about Unix, both the history and actual day-to-day usage. It's clearly authored by a collection of people who love to hate unix and hate to love unix.

    In the intervening nine years, a lot of the criticisms in this book have been addressed. Even at the time it was released, this was becoming true. A lot of the issues in the book have a solution, and its name is "Perl". But don't fool yourself; Unix still sucks in a lot of ways. The chapters criticizing X, for example, are unfortunately far too true today.

    I hope the people who read this get the joke; that only a group of people intimately familiar with Unix could have produced such a book.

  • can do your part in slashdotting "the beast" simply click here []

    That server seems to be holding up surprisingly well, I wonder how long until someone realizes the R&D department's bandwidth usage went through the roof and deletes the file...
    • Don't worry - they can afford it. They sell software. You know? For money.
  • I don't need to worry about those rabid unix haters, I use Linux. Oh wait...
  • by dAzED1 ( 33635 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:42PM (#5817257) Journal
    page 337:

    In an announcement that has stunned the computer industry, Ken Thompson,
    Dennis Ritchie, and Brian Kernighan admitted that the Unix operating
    system and C programming language created by them is an elaborate April
    Fools prank kept alive for more than 20 years. Speaking at the recent
    UnixWorld Software Development Forum, Thompson revealed the following:
    "In 1969, AT&T had just terminated their work with the GE/AT&T
    Multics project. Brian and I had just started working with an early
    release of Pascal from Professor Nichlaus Wirth's ETH labs in Switzerland,
    and we were impressed with its elegant simplicity and
    power. Dennis had just finished reading Bored of the Rings, a hilarious
    National Lampoon parody of the great Tolkien Lord of the Rings
    trilogy. As a lark, we decided to do parodies of the Multics environment
    and Pascal. Dennis and I were responsible for the operating
    environment. We looked at Multics and designed the new system to
    be as complex and cryptic as possible to maximize casual users' frustration
    levels, calling it Unix as a parody of Multics, as well as other
    more risque allusions.
    "Then Dennis and Brian worked on a truly warped version of Pascal,
    called "A." When we found others were actually trying to create real
    programs with A, we quickly added additional cryptic features and
    evolved into B, BCPL, and finally C. We stopped when we got a
    clean compile on the following syntax:
    for(;P("\n"),R=;P("|"))for(e=C;e=P("_"+(* u++/
    "To think that modern programmers would try to use a language that
    allowed such a statement was beyond our comprehension! We actually
    thought of selling this to the Soviets to set their computer science
    progress back 20 or more years. Imagine our surprise when AT&T
    and other U.S. corporations actually began trying to use Unix and C!
    It has taken them 20 years to develop enough expertise to generate
    even marginally useful applications using this 1960s technological
    parody, but we are impressed with the tenacity (if not common sense)
    of the general Unix and C programmer.
  • Stupid argument (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jsse ( 254124 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:43PM (#5817260) Homepage Journal

    The Problem with Hidden Files

    Unix's ls program suppresses file whose name begin with a period (such as .cshrc and .login) by default from directory displays. Attackers exploit this "feature" to hide their system-breaking tools by giving them names that begin with a period. Computer crackers have hidden megabytes of information in unsuspecting user's directories.
    Windows' dir program suppresses file whose are attributed with H (such as...what you see in attrib *.* with H with them) by default from from directory displays. Attackers exploit this "feature" to hide their system-breaking tools by giving them attribute H. Computer crackers have hidden mega bytes of information in unsuspecting user's directories.

    Using file name that contain spaces or control characters is another powerful techniques for hidding files from unsuspecting users. Most trusting users (maybe those who have migrated from the Mac or from MS-Windows) who see a file in their home directory called system who't think twice about it - especially if they can't delete it by typing rm system. "If you can't delete it," they think, "it must be because UNIX was patched to make it so I can't delete this critical system resource."

    Using file names that contain spaces or control characters is another powerful technique for hiding files from unsuspecting users. Most trusting users (maybe those who have migrated from whatever-OS-on-earth) who see a file in their system directory called system.dll won't think twice about it - especially if they can't delete it by typing del system.dll. "If you can't delete it," they think, "it must be because Windows was patched to make it so I can't delete this critical system resource."

    The entire article is stuffed with argument as such. Worth reading only for a laugh.
    • Ahem (Score:3, Informative)

      It might behoove you to actually read the introduction to the book and the bios of the authors. The people who wrote it were not circa-2002 pro-Microsoft trolls; they were circa-1991 VMS and Multics refugees who as a rule knew more about operating system design and engineering than you'll ever learn.

      Also, pointing out that idiotic mistakes such as "hidden" files have been perpetuated by newer operating systems does not negate the point that it was an idiotic mistake. (Quite the opposite, actually.)
  • by coene ( 554338 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:44PM (#5817264)
    So, in 1997, Donald Norman of Apple bashes UNIX...

    And now all Apple Systems ship with it!

    I [heart] Irony
  • I own this book and it's great! While some of the arguments are contrived, it does bring to light many usability issues that appologetics so easily support. Name any other operating system that you can create a file ("-s") that can destroy your operating system? Linux, the kernal, is an amazing beast. The shells and "tools" are amazingly beastly.
  • by YetAnotherName ( 168064 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:54PM (#5817290) Homepage
    I've got the print version of the book. Witty, clever, and sadly on-target in quite a lot of its observations. (I'm still dismayed to see a greater-than character in front of "From" when it's the first word on a line in an email message. There's just no excuse for that in 2003.) And I'm a die-hard Unix lover (logged on using a Silent 700 when I was in 3rd grade).

    But I was turned off that the Unix Haters mailing list was so exclusive: you had to write some similarly erudite and novel observation on how awful Unix was before you'd be let into the club. Clever invective to be kept a careful few? Sounds a bit fearful to me.

    Regardless, it's been years since the book's been out, and Unix still has many warts. The book (and presumably, the mailing list, although I wouldn't know), could serve as a requirements document on how you'd go about improving Unix in general.

    What did the authors offer as a better UI? No, not Windows. Not Mac. Some arcane LISP machine was usually the machine of choice. Sorry, I live in the real world and have to earn a paycheck.
  • Mirror (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:55PM (#5817293)
    In case it does get slashdotted, there is a mirror at

    It even has an HTML converted version for all of us that hate PDF's.
  • by Brian_Ellenberger ( 308720 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:57PM (#5817298)
    This documents has many excellent points. When you are a green developer just into college you are sort of brainwashed into the "UNIX is the best. PCs and Macs are just toys compared to the incredible power of UNIX." When I encountered things I just assumed it was my lack of knowledge or understanding. UNIX wouldn't have faults or problems!

    Of course, many of these problem have been resolved since this book was written. Unfortunately, far too many have remained and have many their way into Linux.

    A) Cryptic Command Names. Still there in Linux

    B) "Unix was like Homer, handed down as oral wisdom."

    Man, this is so true. I got most of my UNIX knowledge passed down to me by upperclassmen and professors. It is amazing how much training it takes in UNIX to do something simple in Windows. For example, recursively searching through a subtree for some text in a file.

    C) Terminal Insanity. Still there in many ways. VT100 pops up its ugly head decades after it should have been killed.

    D) The X-Windows Disaster. X-Windows is what first made me question UNIX's superiority. Dang X sucks. Bad. What a mess! "Motif Self-Abuse Kit" made me laugh because my brief experience programming Motif was one of the worst in my life. It was a mess of void pointers and pointers to functions that was an absolute pain to program.

    E) Make "Unfortunately, in their zeal to be general, many
    Unix tools forget about the quick and easy part."

    I've never found a make that I liked. You should not have to spend hours programming the freakin makefile. Nor should you have to debug whitespace because you have an extra space or tab.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It is amazing how much training it takes in UNIX to do something simple in Windows. For example, recursively searching through a subtree for some text in a file.

      It does take some training. If you're just a casual computer user and never intend to go beyond that stage, you might find that annoying. However, let's compare some similar tasks:

      1. Search all files in dir D for the string "car".
        • Windows: Open a search window, browse until you get to "D", type in the text "car", and maybe click a checkb
    • by wotevah ( 620758 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:43PM (#5817410) Journal
      It is amazing how much training it takes in UNIX to do something simple in Windows. For example, recursively searching through a subtree for some text in a file.

      Toddlers might sometimes wonder why people need to learn so many words and learn to speak in complicated phrases, when it seems that all you really need to do is point and cry to get what you want. Then we grow up.

      The power of Unix is that you can use it to do things that its designers did not (nor did they have to) think about. Your example is flawed in its purpose because you will find it increasingly difficult to do tasks the UI people did not anticipate you would need. Such as doing something with those files you found, rename them to .bak or resize the .gifs or whatever. Until someone writes a Visual Basic program to do it and sells it for 29.95.

      • by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @12:22AM (#5817511) Homepage
        Toddlers might sometimes wonder why people need to learn so many words and learn to speak in complicated phrases, when it seems that all you really need to do is point and cry to get what you want. Then we grow up.

        This is bullshit. Powerful command line functions does not mean they have to be named cp or mv instead of copy or move. Or that their powerful options have to be turned on using cryptic single character options (something that RMS fixed in GNU btw with long form "--" options).

        It is typical of a unix ditto-head to come back with a lame "it's the user's fault" excuse for any sensible criticism of unix.

      • Toddlers might sometimes wonder why people need to learn so many words and learn to speak in complicated phrases, when it seems that all you really need to do is point and cry to get what you want. Then we grow up.

        "Growing up" should never be taken as either a positive thing or a way of obtaining enrichment or as a manifestation of intelligence.

        Even as a linguist, an individual who truly loves the power and diversity of language, I'm just delighted to know that a toddler can point and cry to express a wi
      • Unix makes the easy things hard and the hard things possible.

        Windows makes it hard to condense its design philosophy into a similar statement.

    • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @12:15AM (#5817491) Journal
      Well, we can play tit-for-tat here...

      A) Cryptic Command Names. Still there in Linux

      Sure, there are cryptic commands in Linux, but there are equally cryptic commands in DOS/windows. Start with "dir". Sure, its short for "directory", but imagine someone who has never used a computer before, and they want all the files in a certain place on the computer. Do you think they would ask for a "list" of files? Or a "directory" of files? Once you're in the UI, its not much better. If you use more than one version of windows you'll notice real quick that the File Explorer is completely different from version to version starting with win98 (98 worked like 95's browser with some html extensions)

      B) "Unix was like Homer, handed down as oral wisdom."

      I'll just take a moment to point out that this has been a tried and true method for several millenia now. Your example is pretty moot, since it took several revisions of windows before it could search into the text of files (without buying Microsoft Office and using its Find Fast utility)

      C) Terminal Insanity. Still there in many ways. VT100 pops up its ugly head decades after it should have been killed.

      Have you ever used a UI and wished that someone had added a checkbox for a feature you knew was possible? Added extra blanks in window's Find Files panel/dialog to do boolean searching? Unfortunately, when designing a UI, you're designing the limits of the human's interaction with the system. Someone said "I'll just put one blank there, therefore people can search for only one thing at a time." While the same goes for console user interfaces, things like screen real estate are no longer an issue, the only worry is if the user is willing to type the entire command.

      D) The X-Windows Disaster.

      Do you have a better idea? Something that works portably across many systems? Runs on a thin client over the network? Supports multiple color depths including monochrome? Extensible by modules? Operates transparently locally or remotely?

      Doesn't have a per user licensing restriction? Doesn't use "foundation classes" that change every version of the compiler?

      I hardly call X a disaster, when you consider its goals. I'm sorry you had to use Motif, but nowadays we get to choose from plenty of different widget libraries and languages, and can choose one we like.

      E) Make

      I don't know what you're doing to make using make so hard. Automake is tough, but for a single project, which you dont intend to be porting to other systems, a Makefile containing the targets, the sourcefiles, and the commands to compile each takes about 30-60 seconds of typing per target (especially with copy and paste and variables for compiler options), assuming you know how your source files fit together. If you want to do fancy stuff, buy a book. (See B. Not all wisdom is oral.)
      • That's why a major new feature in Windows Server 2003 was a much-improved set of command-line tools.

        That, and XML configuration files for IIS.

        Windows is no longer a joke. Don't laugh at it.

        The Linux community laughed at Windows for the past five years. In that time, it went from a joke to a serious contender.
        • That's why a major new feature in Windows Server 2003 was a much-improved set of command-line tools.

          "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em"

          I assure you that most of the people who laugh at windows are doing so with a very critical, cautious eye. Sure, there are a few people on COLA and /. who rant and rave without caring, but as someone who admins servers of several OSes, uses computers of several other OSes, and developed software on quite a few OSes, I've seen the best and worst of each, and everything has
  • by zapp ( 201236 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:06PM (#5817321)
    1 -
    I dual boot between Linux and windows. At the time I had a Fat32 partition for windows, and linux could write to it.
    About 4 in the morning I meant to remove the mount point to the fat32 drive (something like /c). I forgot that it was mounted and typed 'rm -r /c' .... after wondering for 30 seconds why it was taking so long, about 1gb of my drive was gone.

    2 -
    I had been coding away on a java project that was due in about an hour, and having just finished it, compiled it, tested it, I got ready to jar it up and submit it (per requirements):
    $ jar cvf *

    Oops! I forgot to specify which file to output the jar file to... and since the shell interprets *, it overwrote my first file... which was the guts of the assignment.
  • cryptic commands? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thadeusPawlickiROX ( 656505 ) * on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:17PM (#5817357)
    The novice Unix user is always surprised by Unix s choice of command names. No amount of training on DOS or the Mac prepares one for the majestic beauty of cryptic two-letter command names such as cp, rm, and ls.

    Hmm... last I checked, MS-DOS commands were not intuitive either. "dir," "deltree," "chkdisk," etc., were not the most intuitive either. Granted the viewpoint of the book is obviously anti-UNIX and all, but non-objective points like this seriously detract from the arguments.

    Command line commands suck, what can I say? But UNIX commands are no worse then other system commands.

    • Re:cryptic commands? (Score:5, Informative)

      by dogfart ( 601976 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @01:20AM (#5817719) Homepage Journal
      Command line commands suck, what can I say? But UNIX commands are no worse then other system commands.

      You kids amuse me. I worked on an AS/400. Command interface was WONDERFUL. Basic form was :

      3 letter verb (e.g., MOV for move, CPY for copy, etc.) 3 letter object (e.g., PFM for physical file member, etc.)

      Depending on the meaning of the command, you might have an optional second object type, or a single letter "adjective" (e.g., "A" for "attribute")

      For example, to copy a file was CPYF, to copy a spool file was CPYSPLF, etc. Lots of times, just knowing what you had to do and the nature of the object you were working with was enough to guess the right command. And if you remembered a command but not the options, you typed in the command, hit PF4, and got a nice documented prompt. Much better than having to scroll through man pages.

      I heven't touched one of these machines for many years, but I can still come up with all the basic commands on the spot. I now work more with UNIX, and still have a hard time remembering commands and argument ordering for many common tasks.

      The AS/400 commands were developed by folks who saw what old 1970's mainframe commands were like and knew they had to improve on them (IEBGENER to copy a file? come on!). They knew what they had sucked, and that they had to improve on it. UNIX users, on the other hand, made a virtue out of necessity, and figured if someone else couldn't figure out their system, then they must not be smart enough to deserve to use it.

      Simplicity is a virtue with UNIX. Consistency unfortunately isn't

  • Finally! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Pim ( 140414 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:18PM (#5817359)
    I've never been able to find used copies of this book (it went out of print before I acquired a proper hatred of unix myself); I'm sure the owners have been jealously guarding their treasures. Surely, no PDF will ever replace a genuine Unix barf bag--tattered and acrid from continuous service. But at last I can read the words of those upright souls who dared cry, "the emperor's clothes are neither fine nor warm nor comfortable!".

    If you are tempted to dismiss this book as petty grousing or sour grapes, you have entirely the wrong idea. These authors elevate unix hating to a high art, and we of the GNU generation should study their tracts. None may call himself a true unix user if he does not harbor a passionate enmity for some facet of this hodgepodge, drug-induced kluge of a system we love and endure.

  • Ok, so, I think everyone on /. knows that I like GNU/Linux. So, you expect that what follows is going to be a ranting rave about how much this book sucks, right? Wrong. This book is great, and here's why.

    Many here have pointed out that alot of these very same problems exist elsewhere. Hidden files are a social-engineering security problem on Windows and Mac as well; likewise with undeleteable files.

    So what? Saying, "well, their OS sucks too" doesn't make our OS any better. Since when is it ok for me to accept my own flaws just because everyone else around me also has those same flaws, or others?

    The stuff written in this book shouldn't be seen as MS/Mac propaganda. I think most people who are going to be reading it are GNU/Linux users, and aren't going to be switching anytime soon, irrelevant of how much the authors hate *nix. (btw, if *nix sucks so much, why is Mac basing OSX around it, and why do we keep hearing rumors about MS doing such as well?).

    There are many valid and important criticisms of *nix in that book. We should consider ourselves lucky that this book is narrowly targetted to *nix and doesn't address any of the same problems win Windows and MacOS -- we've received solid constructive criticism which others haven't, and that's a good thing.
  • The rm problem.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by deego ( 587575 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @01:02AM (#5817644)
    Some "purists" think using trash is a bad idea. But I learnt the hard way that I need a "Trash" rather than rm... And yes, i have been using *nix for 11 years now.

    I find that trashing instead of rm-ing saves me a lot of time and effort, when i realize a minute later that i accidently deleted the wrong file.

    A simple shell script trash:

    mv -i $* ~/trashcan/

    And in .bashrc:
    alias rm='echo please use trash or, when sure, /bin/rm -i instead'

    Once in a while run xdiskusage to remove large files from ther trashcan.

  • HAHAHA (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rhinobird ( 151521 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @06:33AM (#5818434) Homepage
    I got down to the mail chapter and the quote there almost made Mountain Dew spew from my nasal orafice.

    Not having sendmail is like not having VD.
    --Ron Heiby
    Former moderator, comp.newprod
  • Best quote (Score:3, Funny)

    by yem ( 170316 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @08:21AM (#5818606) Homepage
    From Donald A. Norman's foreword:
    "If this book doesn't kill Unix, nothing will."
  • Mirror (Score:3, Informative)

    by serutan ( 259622 ) <(moc.nozakeeg) (ta) (guodpoons)> on Monday April 28, 2003 @01:48AM (#5822934) Homepage
    The MS link is broken now, but the pdf is also available here [].

Computer programmers do it byte by byte.