[TUHS] Ideas for a Unix paper I'm writing
lm at bitmover.com
Tue Jun 28 10:26:31 AEST 2011
On Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 10:11:40AM +1000, Warren Toomey wrote:
> Anyway, if you can think of good ideas/references about the elegance of
> Unix, especially from the design perspective, I would much appreciate them.
This may just be me getting old or something, but here's a story that lead
to an aha! moment for me. Long winded, so let me go get a glass of wine...
I was an undergrad and a grad student in CS at the University of Wisconsin-
Madison, a school that contributed a bit to Unix dev, especially 4BSD series.
It took me a while but eventually I got a login on an 11/750 named slovax
which held the sources. As a nerd, I spent a lot of time just reading the
sources. I really didn't know shit, I had read K&R so I could do hello
world as good as the next guy but I was trying to move on. I had not
yet read Rochkinds book, that would have helped but it came later (for
me at least).
I did not just read the kernel, I read libc, wandered through all of that
stuff. Had some aha's when I say varargs, but the big one for me was
popen(). I was so naive it just had never occurred to me that a library
call would create a new process to do your bidding. I didn't have a
mental model as to how it should work, I just knew popen() did something,
but when I read the (small) amount of could I was stunned. To me it
was really cool, it changed how I thought about programming. popen()
is a pretty elegant combining of the kernel interfaces to make a very
I have to believe that others here had similar (and better) aha moments,
maybe a series of those would make a nice appendix or something?
Good luck with the paper, writing is hard, if you run out of reviewers
I cna try and find some time to make comments if that helps.
Larry McVoy lm at bitmover.com http://www.bitkeeper.com
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