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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Member since:

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.

Reply Parent Score: 3

dylansmrjones Member since:

It is only "rm -rf /" which will operate recursively on directories...

Bad joke aside, you're quite right.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Hypnos Member since:

I like the fact that there are different shells, compilers, make utilities, editors, etc. etc. These are not all equivalent or even compatible. But it's good to do things different ways, as long as it all hangs together in the end.

This bazaar-like system will produce the kind of inconsistencies you point out, but it's no biggie if it produces better software in the end.

Reply Parent Score: 1

jabbotts Member since:

I find it's often important to understand the "why" of a thing be it computers or other topics.

For chmod "-r" means "remove read permissions" so it can't also mean "do this recursively" hence, you have the only other available option "-R".

Granted, there are other examples like things that only recognize "--help" rather than providing a "-h" quick help display.

Still haven't found an OS that does remain truly consistent though either.

Reply Parent Score: 6