Pointer: The Unix-Haters Handbook
January 27, 2006
In the spirit of yesterday's entry on a Unix annoyance:
If you're fond of Unix, and especially if you're uncritically fond of Unix, it's good to read the Unix-Haters Handbook (originally published in dead trees format, but now available online); another website on it is Don Hopkins' here, which has bonus bits and pieces.
I don't agree with the Handbook; my position is probably closest to Dennis Ritchie's marvelous anti-forward, which really summarizes things quite nicely. But it's good for Unix enthusiasts to admit that Unix does have clay on its feet.
(Besides, the Unix-Haters Handbook has lots of funny quotes, decent rants, and well done vituperation. How can you go wrong?)
I find the Handbook interesting partly because it's a lingering artifact of the clash of computing cultures in the 1980s, where Unix was ultimately victorious. Another artifact of this clash is Richard Gabriel's often-quoted The Rise of "Worse is Better", which is also well worth your time to read.
Note that "Worse is Better" was just part of Gabriel's Lisp: Good News, Bad News, How to Win Big, which is another of those seminal papers, although less interesting for non-Lisp people. Gabriel has a history of the spread of "Worse is Better" here for the interested, along with a lot of other writings on his web site.
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