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Re: Unix philosophy under the gun?

From: Chris Garrigues
Subject: Re: Unix philosophy under the gun?
Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2001 15:19:41 -0500

> From:  address@hidden (Greg A. Woods)
> Date:  Fri,  3 Aug 2001 14:58:27 -0400 (EDT)
> [ On Friday, August 3, 2001 at 08:52:27 (-0400), Matthew Riechers wrote: ]
> > Subject: Re: Unix philosophy under the gun?
> >
> > If your approach CVS with only a non-UNIX mindset, you are effectively
> > going against the grain, and that makes it very hard to learn and use.
> Oh, but that is SO TRUE!  :-)
> The last time I taught a large group of programmers and engineers about
> CVS I told them this up front and though I used unix-ish examples
> throughout all the while I was at the same time using a crappy
> M$-Windows box as a workstation (i.e. with cvs on the M$ box accessing a
> unix server).
> Even with their expectations set, and even with a familiar context for
> the demonstrations, they still complained.
> I realised afterwards that I should have spent a whole day just teaching
> those people how to think about software tools without ever mentioning
> any specific type of system.  They had no basic understanding of how to
> make their work easier!
> I recently ordered a book called "Think UNIX" and I'm hoping it will
> give me better proven methods for teaching people how to think about
> building and using personal software tools.

When I was teaching an Intro to Unix course, I spent a bunch of time right 
at the beginning talking about the "Small Tool Philosophy" that Unix is 
based around.  You kinda have to acknowledge that much Unix software has 
drifted away from that philosophy (can we say X?), but it really helped them 
understand how Unix is useful and why I spent so much time on commands with 
obscure names that don't do very much.  I actually got people who were just 
learning Unix the first time to count the number of different logged on users 
and stick that in a variable on their second day:

        USERS=`users|sort|uniq|wc -w`


Chris Garrigues                 http://www.DeepEddy.Com/~cwg/
virCIO                          http://www.virCIO.Com
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