[TUHS] Ideas for a Unix paper I'm writing

Tim Newsham tim.newsham at gmail.com
Tue Jun 28 17:22:58 AEST 2011

On Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 7:48 PM, Nick Downing
<downing.nick+tuhs at gmail.com> wrote:
> Another really important thing to mention is the Bourne shell, it's
> kind of the glue that sticks it all together, and a bit of a
> masterpiece in itself, being fraught with compromise but having
> programmability and a batch capability without taking away from its
> main purpose of being a useable interactive shell.

... but not a great feature to talk about when celebrating 1st
editions 10th birthday,
since 1st edition didn't have that fancy shmancy shell :)

> cheers, Nick
> On Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 2:13 PM, Greg 'groggy' Lehey <grog at lemis.com> wrote:
>> On Tuesday, 28 June 2011 at 10:11:40 +1000, Warren Toomey wrote:
>>> I'm having some trouble thinking of the right way to explain what is
>>> an elegant design at the OS/syscall level, so any inspirations/ideas
>>> would be most welcome. I might highlight a couple of syscall groups:
>>> open/close/read/write, and fork/exec/exit/wait.
>> The system call interface is one thing, but I'm not sure it's the most
>> important one.  Older operating systems (in my experience, IBM OS/360
>> and UNIVAC Omega and OS 1100) had similar interfaces.  Omega also had
>> the concept of integer file descriptors (including 0, 1 and 2
>> preassigned).  All of these systems had open/close/read/write, for
>> example.
>> I came to UNIX relatively late, and my first impression wasn't
>> favourable.  It took me a while to realise what the real advantages
>> were.  For me, they're:
>> - Text files.  At the time, any data of any importance was stored in
>>  custom-designed file formats.  That was more efficient, both in
>>  terms of processing time and space, but it made things difficult if
>>  anything went wrong.
>> - The file system itself.  I think the design of the file system,
>>  especially the separation of names and the files themselves, but
>>  also special files, is one of the most far-reaching designs I've
>>  ever come across.  To this day, I haven't found anything that even
>>  comes close.
>> You might also get some ideas from
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unix_philosophy
>> Greg
>> --
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Tim Newsham | www.thenewsh.com/~newsham | thenewsh.blogspot.com

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