One reason why I like Unix

October 23, 2005
; uptime
 19:33:45 up 264 days, 12 min, [...]
; ps -e -o start,comm
  Feb 01 init
  Feb 01 X
  Feb 01 xterm
  Feb 01 fvwm2
  Feb 01 wish8.4
  Feb 01 exmh
  Apr 12 ssh

I don't think long uptimes are an exclusive Unix virtue; every operating system can and should have them. But there's machine uptime and then there's total user environment uptime, and my impression is that many systems today are far less good at the latter.

Not only has has my office workstation and its system programs been running since February 1st, but I've been logged in and running X Windows continuously since then, along with my window manager, my mail reader, and several other programs that I keep running all the time. I use the machine reasonably intensely; I routinely compile large programs, watch video, play music, and so on.

The ssh command started April 12th has been forwarding X for my environment on the remote machine (which has obviously been up since then; in fact it was rebooted then), and that environment has been running since then:

; ps -o start,command
12Apr05 xrun [...]
12Apr05 xlbiff -title [...]

It is very nice to just be able to expect this kind of quiet, long-term operation from everything that I run; it makes the computer my servant, instead of me the computer's servant ('I am annoyed with life; quit some of your programs to make me happy').

(Now, mind you, I am out of touch with the Microsoft Windows world; it is quite possible that multi-month Windows sessions are now perfectly normal if you want to stay logged in that long. Data points from Windows people are welcome.)

(The observant will gather from this that I have not installed Fedora Core 4 on my office workstation. Surprise, surprise. At this point I may wait for Fedora Core 5, unless I get impatient with outdated software.)

Written on 23 October 2005.
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Last modified: Sun Oct 23 20:28:46 2005
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