[clug] Why do we do what we do in Linux? [was Re: Text editor]

Neill Cox neill at ace-hosting.com.au
Tue Oct 28 04:48:43 MDT 2014

Thanks Bryan and Hugh - it's always good to look at things from a different

Despite how well Linux / Unix suits me I am hesitant to recommend it to
everyone exactly because of the difficulties in getting some things done
and I am on the Free end of the Free/Open Source spectrum. I think that the
most important thing about FOSS is the control it gives users over the
devices that increasingly mediate their lives today.

Linux does have a habit of being maddeningly difficult to get to work - I
know I often have a great deal of difficulty getting sound to work properly
on my machines. OTOH so many things are so much more reliable once they are
setup and it's wonderful not being at the mercy of commercial entities for
my computing needs.

All the same, as Hugh points out the "unix way" of "small sharp tools" may
not be the best way for everything. I've cut myself often enough to think
that some safeguards might be a good idea.

Most of my work now involves shoving data through restful APIs. Sure,
almost everything get serialised to a text format (please JSON rather than
XML!) but every now and then I have to deal with binary data as well. These
APIs tend to work on structured data rather than streams of bytes and for
good reason. I don't want to have to build a parser every time I talk to a
system on a different computer.

Good on you Bryan for being willing to learn, but good for the rest of us
to be reminded how difficult that can be.

My current favourite shell is fish, partly because it is very good at
discoverability. It knows a lot about the tools I use at the command line
and is good at reminding me of the options that I have more and more
trouble keeping straight in my head.

Bit of a ramble this, but it comes down to: I personally love the command
line, but I think that it's unrealistic to expect everyone to and that we
should be willing to learn from other approaches to getting things done.
Not slavishly copy, but cherry pick the best bits.


On Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 9:11 PM, Bryan Kilgallin <bryan at netspeed.com.au>

> As you say Steve:
>  It also was considered impossible, maddening, frustrating, technical,
>>> nerdy....
>> Not for people who were prepared to study.
> Not being self-evident/obvious/apparent, has constrained Linux' desktop
> market share!
> But I have been asking for study guidance.
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