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Re: 1,000 year backward compatability of tools

From: John W. Eaton
Subject: Re: 1,000 year backward compatability of tools
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 12:43:31 -0600

On 19-Feb-2003, Bruce Korb <address@hidden> wrote:

| Paul Eggert wrote:
| > 
| > Personally I'm becoming more inclined to start using shell functions.
| > Perhaps in Autoconf 3.
| If my memory serves, GCC has finally said, "Enough with K&R already!"
| but everyone is still saying, "You first."  and  "No, after you."
| It's silliness.  The only people squawking are the ones jealously 
| looking out for someone who maybe might be using the stuff.  Sweating
| K&R-isms and copying shell text to avoid functions is a waste of
| developer time.  Even if money isn't paid, there's still a big cost.
| It's past time.

I agree.  It all adds up to a lot of wasted effort trying to support
old stuff that only a few people use.

Paul Eggert mentioned Ultrix as a system that had a /bin/sh without
support for shell functions.  That's true, I used to be one of its
victims^H^H^H^H^H^H^H users, and I remember it just as if it were
yesterday (actually, it has been more than 7 years now, but the wounds
are still healing).  In any case, even Ultrix had another shell,
/bin/sh5, if I remember correctly, that did support shell functions,
and it would not have been too difficult for configure to attempt to
find it (or bash, if that happened to be installed), and then re-exec
itself using the more functional shell.  I'm not sure why that was
never done.  Back when it would have mattered, bash was not even using
an autoconf-generated configure script, so there wouldn't have even
been a (serious) bootstrapping problem on most other widely used
systems of the time.

But now?  Do we really have to worry about these old systems?  If
people enjoy the vintage hardware, then is it that bad if they can
only use vintage software on it as well?


--        | Unfortunately we were hopelessly optimistic in 1954 | about the problems of debugging FORTRAN programs.
                      |                                       -- J. Backus

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