Python surpasses Perl in popularity?

Jorgen Grahn grahn+nntp at
Fri Dec 5 13:10:52 CET 2008

["Followup-To:" header set to]
On 29 Nov 2008 16:23:49 GMT, Tam Ha <not-for-mail at> wrote:
> Jorgen Grahn <grahn+nntp at> wrote: 
>>(I could get away with using Bash in these cases. It has functions, 
>>local variables and so on. Writing portable Bourne shell is not as 
>>much fun.)
> Can you explain this?

Sorry for the late answer. No, it's actually what I said:

I could get away with using bash in these cases, so I did it. It was
an in-house application, it had already unknown dependencies to bash,
and to Linux versions of other utilities. If I had asked for time to
modify it to make sure it was portable Bourne shell, people would have
laughed at me.

> Bourne is always more portable than Bash.
> That's why you'll find experienced shell programmers writing everything
> that doesn't absolutely require a bash feature in /bin/sh.  Boot scripts,
> install scripts, etc. should never be written in bash and if where you
> find one using bash you can be sure a Linux-only newbie has written it.

Sure, nothing controversial about that.  I don't argue that people
should use bash features in any random script they write. I just noted
that if you decide to use it, it's a pretty useful language. Probably
more useful than Python in my case, where most of the work was about
starting and managing external commands and pipelines.

> For one there are too many versions of bash, for two it is not installed
> by default on every Unix/Linux OS, for three it has poor backwards
> (and forwards) compatibility.

Worse compatibility than Perl or Python?  The Bourne shell timescale
is probably impressive, but often you aren't interested in decades.

> It is also found at different places on
> the path.

Surely that applies to almost any interpreter, like perl and python.
It's a problem (on the non-free Unixes at least) but if you let it be
the deciding factor, you could use no scripting language except
/bin/sh and awk.


  // Jorgen Grahn <grahn@        Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu
\X/>          R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

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