Unix As Literature

“Mastery of UNIX, like mastery of language, offers real freedom. The price of freedom is always dear, but there’s no substitute.” – Thomas Scoville: The Elements Of Style: UNIX As Literature.

For over three decades Unix is known as a powerful and flexible operating system, technically superior to most of its more popular rivals. The larger the network, the more important the task, the more it shines. So why is Unix still not everybody’s favourite? OS X, KDE and Gnome have made Unix systems more accessible for the masses, but Unix is still quite remote, hidden under a layer of GUI. It’s like a novel competing with omnipresent glossy magazines, adverts and TV. It will always be apreciated by the savvy, but the majority will simply fail to even notice let alone understand. It is not only that Unix lacks marketing. It is that Unix is demanding. To use Unix you have to read and be capable of abstract thought. This will take some effort on behalf of the user. On the other hand people who lack numeracy and reading skills will always find plenty of opportunity to fail where others succeed.This may seem like the arrogant Unix geek drivel that puts people off, but at the core of the matter lies the fact, that being smart is quite a good thing — or why does everybody insist on telling children to go to school? If you made it this far, you might want to read some more.

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