"And then I knew. I could never finish learning UNIX. It was
like a huge playground, a world all by itself. Using the UNIX
command line, you were forever the curious child exploring the
woods, never having to grow up. Sometimes you would figure for
hours how to achieve a certain result on the command line because
it was simply too troublesome through other means; like renaming a
whole bunch of files, or concatenating the first few lines of all
the files in a directory tree, or transferring a partition of the
harddisk across the network."
"You'd struggle with it, come up with a sub-optimal one-liner,
and when you finally decided to go look at the man page for the
associated commands you'd find that somebody had already thought of
it before you, that command line switches already existed to do all
the work for you, that if only you had read the manual, you could
have done it with a fraction of the effort and in a fraction of the
time, flexibly connecting different little commands together to
form a bigger one that got the job done."
"I discovered that the UNIX command line was unlike any command
line I had known. It was a creative discipline all by itself, where
experienced users routinely created works of art. And I had begun
to understand why the UNIX man pages are so tersely written.
Without that kind of completeness and conciseness, it would
certainly be easier to feed the kids, but it would be impossible to
feed the teenagers. UNIX gave me a deep respect for good online
documentation, a respect that I would later realize was critical to
the volunteer software community that I was yet to discover."
"The guiding philosophies of UNIX -- small sharp tools,
extreme modularity, layers, clean separation between user and
kernel, among others -- had paid off handsomely, for decades
proving the UNIX naysayers wrong. People would use the
components of the system in ways that the original architects (or
the naysayers) never intended, or perhaps even thought
possible. And in a world of changing requirements and high
software development cost, this flexibility was going to take or
break one's software business."
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