Accumulated Dreck versus Clean Design - was "why tar is strange"

Warren Postma embed at geocities.com
Fri May 26 16:28:32 CEST 2000


Juanjo Álvarez wrote:
 > While you launch and use winzip I can type 5 times  "tar zxvf"

<off-topic-rant-mode>

Why hasn't 'untar' become a standard script? I HATE typing "tar zxvf".
Just learning all the undocumented idioms of Unix has been a lifetime of
pain and agony for me, and I'm still not finished.

It reminds me of the disgusting mess I had to use, called a Control Data
CYBER 9000 mainframe. Would you like to change working directories, how
about typing this in:

$CHANGE_WORKING_CATALOG
 @NEW_DIRECTORY:='DISK398408A9083A90380983:SUBDIR1:SUBDIR2'

The short form was something like this: first three letters of the first
work of the command (CHA) plus the first letter of each word after that (W,
C), so the short form of CHANGE_WORKING_CATALOG was CHAWC.   So you typed
CHAWC instead of the more readable Unix or CP/M variant "cd".  Nice going,
eh?  Yes, folks, there are things more obtuse than Perl out there, but only
just barely. The above sample I've given is not actually right, because even
when I used the CYBER9000 a lot, I couldn't keep the weird syntax in my
head, and had to resort to a printed "crib sheet" just to get basic things
done.

Back to the lesser evil for a minute: Unix commands are still so obtuse that
I have a hard time keeping them in my head.  The overall impression I get is
that they have developed through years and years of pragmatic stepwise
refinement, and have become layer upon layer of crusty code, like an old
house with 100 coats of paint, each one peeling away to show the layers
beneath.

The ultimate expression of this accumulated "as-built" dreck, IMHO, is Perl,
and it is the reason, among other things, that I prefer Python.   Look, a
feeble attempt to bring myself back on topic... :-)

</off-topic-rant-mode>

Warren







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