The Unix Haters' Handbook

Roy J. Tellason rtellason at
Tue Apr 8 19:43:54 CDT 2008

On Tuesday 08 April 2008 02:14, Chuck Guzis wrote:
> > Date: Mon, 07 Apr 2008 14:04:01 -0400
> > From: Sridhar Ayengar
> >
> > That's bull.  There are ways to make grep output something like "No
> > matches" without breaking a pipeline that uses it.  I suggest that
> > perhaps those who say "They're the kind of thing people who don't use or
> > understand pipes will say." are the ones who truly don't understand
> > pipes.
> If anything, my issue with the evolution of *nix is that the original
> philosophy of "write a bunch of simple tools and hook 'em together
> via pipes" seems to have been deprecated in the almost 30 years since
> I began using Unix.   There seems to be a trend of proliferating
> options.
> Quick, who can recite from memory all of the switches and their
> meanings for GNU tar?  I can't.  Who can understand the tar man
> pages? Who knows it to be accurate for the particular incarnation of
> tar that they're using?


Tar was one of the first instances where I found the man pages to be less than 
useful,  there being a whole lot more available in the "info" stuff on the 
system at the time.  Way back then (probably not too long after I started 
running linux in 1999) I was playing with a tape drive,  a bigger unit that 
had a proprietary interface card (used a short 50-wire ribbon cable) and of 
the assortment of DC-600 and DC-300XL and a number of other tapes the best I 
could do with any of them was something like 256MB,  which would've meant 
spanning tapes to do a backup,  even back then.  I got to the point where I 
could tar a file on to the tape,  read it back again,  and verify that it was 
what it was supposed to be,  and then pretty much lost interest at that 

And these days I'm wondering how all those data tapes are doing,  up there in 
the attic,  after some of what I've read in here. :-|

Member of the toughest, meanest, deadliest, most unrelenting -- and
ablest -- form of life in this section of space,  a critter that can
be killed but can't be tamed.  --Robert A. Heinlein, "The Puppet Masters"
Information is more dangerous than cannon to a society ruled by lies. --James 
M Dakin

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