easy vs. powerful OS
Brian R. Smith
brsmith at cs.umn.edu
Fri Mar 15 12:39:24 EST 1991
In bionet.software you write:
[An unbelievably long diatribe against unix, the main points being
that it is counter-intuitive and not metaphoric, due to programmer's
convenience, etc. Lots of generalizations and misinformation
You seem to be missing the point. Unix is (WAS + compatibility)
primarily a programmer's system. All those commands and concepts you
find so alien were intended for a completely different audience.
Fortunately, an "operating system" is not comprised entirely of the
utility commands it comes with. Unix isn't popular because of all
those wonderfully obscure commands; it's popular (IMHO) because of the
underlying (POWERFUL) features:
REAL background jobs.
You aren't required to have enough physical memory for all your
processes. (So you can run really BIG processes.)
Memory protection. Poorly-made programs don't crash your system.
Multiple users, file protections, encryption, PASSWORDS.
What's more, a decent user interface (with all those wonderful tools
and their metaphors) CAN be built on top of Unix. NeXT has made a
pretty good start. (On a completely non-standard windowing system
with an obscure object oriented version of C, though, which has its
It will take a while before Unix/X really comes up to speed with
graphical user interfaces. The mac had the advantage there because
Apple started from scratch - no compatibility or previous user base to
consider. Of course, it's taking Apple quite a while to get virtual
memory into MacOS...
So - if you want the power of unix, you're stuck with the god-awful
user interface. Not how it SHOULD be - how it IS.
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