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Ghosts of Unix past, part 2: Conflated designs

Nov 22, 2010, 22:03 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Neil Brown)

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"In the first article in this series, we commenced our historical search for design patterns in Linux and Unix by illuminating the "Full exploitation" pattern which provides a significant contribution to the strength of Unix. In this second part we will look at the first of three patterns which characterize some design decisions that didn't work out so well.

"The fact that these design decisions are still with us and worth talking about shows that their weaknesses were not immediately obvious and, additionally, that these designs lasted long enough to become sufficiently entrenched that simply replacing them would cause more harm than good. With these types of design issues, early warning is vitally important. The study of these patterns can only serve if they help us to avoid similar mistakes early enough. If they only allow us to classify that which we cannot avoid, there would be little point in studying them at all.

"These three patterns are ordered from the one which seems to give most predictive power to that which is least valuable as an early warning. But hopefully the ending note will not be one of complete despair - any guidance in preparing for the future is surely better than none."

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