[TUHS] cat -v and other complaints

Andrew Warkentin andreww591 at gmail.com
Sat Sep 1 13:37:38 AEST 2018

On 8/31/18, Cág <ca6c at bitmessage.ch> wrote:
> Not completely on-topic, in my opinion one of the reasons Plan9 failed
> was the fact that it presented itself overly idealistic, occasionally
> sacrificing usability -- maybe it's because of coming from a Unix system
> like Berkeley or IRIX, in which case, I think Brian Kernighan said, "if
> you'll think of it as Unix, you'll often be frustrated because something
> doesn't exist or works differently."

I'd definitely agree with the lack of usability-oriented features
being a part of why Plan 9 hasn't been commercially successful. In
general, it seems like Plan 9 focuses on being minimal above
everything else, whereas I'd say an ideal OS should focus on being
sufficiently general and extensible in addition to being minimal (in
other words, do things in the most minimal way that is sufficiently
general and extensible).

> On the one hand the `cat -v` and
> some other concerns (like columnated ls(1) output) are valid, and very
> well understood. On the other -- lack of find(1), shell history, and
> vi are not. Well, to me at least. Both acme and sam seem to have found
> its fanbase.

I'd say features like history, completion, and line editing really
don't belong in a shell. They should be handled by a separate listener
process with a simple API that shells and other client processes can
use for controlling them. That's one good example of Plan 9
prioritizing minimalism above everything else.

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