[TUHS] origin of the name 'glob'

Steve Johnson scj at yaccman.com
Mon Jul 10 00:51:36 AEST 2017

I never asked the originators.  In fact, I don't think I've ever used
glob outside of the shell...

It's interesting to contemplate how the world might be different if we
had used regular expressions consistently in the shell as well as the
editor(s).  We could have picked some other character like : to
indicate the file extension.   I suspect we would have had regular
expressions built into all kinds of things...


----- Original Message -----
From: "Doug McIlroy" <doug at cs.dartmouth.edu>
To:<tuhs at minnie.tuhs.org>
Sent:Sun, 09 Jul 2017 08:26:56 -0400
Subject:Re: [TUHS] origin of the name 'glob'

 Glob was an an accident. When Ken and Dennis wanted to put wildcards
 (an anachronistic word--it wasn't used in the Unix lab at the time)
 into the shell, there wasn't room, so they came up with the clever
 of calling another process to do the work.

 I have always understood that glob meant global because commands like
 rm *
 would be applied to every file in a directory. A relationship to ed's
 g command was clear, but not primary in my mind.

 One curious fact is that from day one the word hase been pronounced
 not globe. (By contrast, creat has been variously pronounced cree-at
 and create.) It is also interesting to speculate on whether there
 be a glob library routine in Linux had glob only been an identifier
 sh.c rather than an entry in /bin.

 I believe the simple * was borrowed from somewhere else. If the g
 had been the driving model, glob would probably have had ? and ?*,
 ? and *. (It couldn't use ed's . because . was ubiquitous in file

 My etymology is somewhat different from Steve's. But I never asked
 originator(s). Steve, did you?


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