Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 25th May 2012 14:55 UTC
General Unix James Hague: "But all the little bits of complexity, all those cases where indecision caused one option that probably wasn't even needed in the first place to be replaced by two options, all those bad choices that were never remedied for fear of someone somewhere having to change a line of code... They slowly accreted until it all got out of control, and we got comfortable with systems that were impossible to understand." Counterpoint by John Cook: "Some of the growth in complexity is understandable. It's a lot easier to maintain an orthogonal design when your software isn't being used. Software that gets used becomes less orthogonal and develops diagonal shortcuts." If there's ever been a system in dire need of a complete redesign, it's UNIX and its derivatives. A mess doesn't even begin to describe it (for those already frantically reaching for the comment button, note that this applies to other systems as well).
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I do not understand how inconsistency would be fun or flexible.
Here's a quiz - which one will operate recursively on directories:
'ls -r' or 'ls -R'? 'rm -r' or 'rm -R'? 'chmod -r' or 'chmod -R'?
The only reason I can come up with for this inconsistency is that there is no reason. There wasn't any thought put into it when those commands were written, and we've stuck with it for decades.

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