Monday, June 04, 2007


The UNIXHATERS Handbook [download] is a fun to read book. It introduces us to the frustrations of the 80's hackers who were exposed to UNIX of that time [it is presented as virus-with-a-user-interface in the book]. They were not quarantined in time so it simply spread...

Most of the stuff in the book is not valid literally [Now we have GNU/Linux and I must note that many of the bugs mentioned here have been fixed, so you can not replicate them.   But the points of 'being-productive' is still context free :)] but some of the philosophy mentioned, still holds.

But listen to what Dennis Ritchie [Co-creator UNIX and C] has to say about the book:

Here is my metaphor: your book is a pudding stuffed with apposite observations, many well-conceived. Like excrement, it contains enough undigested nuggets of nutrition to sustain life for some. But it is not a tasty pie: it reeks too much of contempt and of envy.

Bon Appetite!

--------------------------"The Answer Lies in Genome"--------------------------

PS: Few quotes from the book

To Ken and Dennis,
without whom this book
would not have been possible.


The original Unix solved a problem and solved it well, as did the Roman numeral system, the mercury treatment for syphilis, and carbon paper. And like those technologies, Unix, too, rightfully belongs to history.

 "Two of the most famous products of Berkeley are LSD and Unix. I don't think that this is a coincidence."


Unix was evolutionarily superior to its competitors, but not technically superior. Unix became a commercial success because it was a virus.

A century ago, fast typists were jamming their keyboards, so engineers designed the QWERTY keyboard to slow them down.

550 chiarell… User unknown: Not a typewriter
-sendmail error message

Sturgeon's Law, which states that 90% percent of any field is crap.

wc *.c
[A UNIX program 'wc' used here over C source files from the book: The Unix Programming Environment]
Yep. That's what much of this programmer's work consists of. In fact, today I spent so much time counting my C files that I didn't really have time to do anything else. I think I'll go count them again.

Yet somehow Unix maintains its reputation as a programmer's dream. Maybe it lets programmers dream about being productive, rather than letting them actually be productive.

If you drop a frog into briskly boiling water it will immediately jump out. Boiling water is hot, you know. However, if you put a frog into cold water and slowly bring it to a boil, the frog won't notice and will be boiled to death.

The noted linguistic theorist Benjamin Whorf said that our language determines what concepts we can think. C has this effect on Unix; it prevents programmers from writing robust software by making such a thing unthinkable.

bugs usually don't get fixed (or even tracked down), and periodically rebooting Unix is the most reliable way to keep it from exhibiting Alzheimer's disease.

Unix discovers this after spending a few hours to dump 2 gigabytes. Unix happily reports the bad spot, asks you to replace the tape with a new one, destroy the evil tape, and start over. Yep, Unix considers an entire tape unusable if it can't write on one inch of it.

Using crypt is like giving a person two aspirin for a heart attack. Crypt's encryption algorithm is incredibly weak—so weak that several years ago, a graduate student at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory wrote a program that automatically decrypts data files encrypted with crypt.2

always going on about how under real operating systems (ITS and MULTICS among others), one never had to worry about losing mail, losing files, needing to run fsck on every reboot… the minor inconveniences Unix weenies suffer

The Unix file system slows down as the disk fills up. Push disk usage much past 90%, and you'll grind your computer to a halt. The Unix solution takes a page from any good politician and fakes the numbers. Unix's df command is rigged so that a disk that is 90% filled gets reported as "100%," 80% gets reported as being "91%" full, and so forth.
Weird, huh? It's sort of like someone who sets his watch five minutes ahead and then arrives five minutes late to all of his appointments, because he knows that his watch is running fast.

So why do people believe that the Unix file system is high performance? Because Berkeley named their file system "The Fast File System."

By design, NFS is connectionless and stateless. There's only one problem with a connectionless, stateless system: it doesn't work.

God has a binary representation is just another clear indication that Unix is extremely cabalistic and was probably written by disciples of Aleister Crowley.

Unix teaches us about the transitory nature of all things, thus ridding us of samsaric attachments and hastening enlightenment. - Michael Travers <>
[Now, I no longer have attachments to my processes. Both processes and the disappearance of processes are illusory. The world is Unix, Unix is the world, laboring ceaselessly for the salvation of all sentient beings.]

In a cryptic statement, Professor Wirth of the ETH Institute and father of the Pascal, Modula 2, and Oberon structured languages, merely stated that P. T. Barnum was correct.

Dennis and Brian worked on a truly warped version of Pascal, called "A." When we found others were actually trying to create real 308 Creators Admit C, Unix Were Hoax programs with A, we quickly added additional cryptic features and evolved into B, BCPL, and finally C. We stopped when we got a clean compile on the following syntax:

for(;P("\n"),R=;P("|"))for(e=C;e=P("_"+(*u++/ 8)%2))P("|"+(*u/4)%2);

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