RE: NT vs. UNIX (quite off topic and longish)

From: Seppo J Niemi (
Date: Mon Aug 11 1997 - 13:00:20 EEST writes:

> about the only value i see in unix is that it provides job security to
> those already fluent in it. it is extremely un-user friendly and hard

Most modern Un*ces have adopted a graphical user interface that hides
most of what you call 'un-user friendliness'. You don't have to use
shell commands at all - all basic operations can be accomplished via
graphical tools. Infact, you can even install a window manager that
will make your Un*x desktop look like that of Windows 95 :-)

If your version of Un*x doesn't provide these tools, it's time to
upgrade your operating system and/or hardware. You can't blame Un*x
that it's difficult to use if you are using some stone-age version;
that would be equivalent to using MS-DOS 3.0 and complaining that it
is not user-friendly.

BTW: Unix is a trademark of Novell Inc. and licensed to X/OPEN Systems
Corporation, Ltd. whereas "Un*x" refers to any Unix-like operating
system, regardless of vendor or processor architecture

> to learn. the commands are obscure. i.e. what does "grep" stand for?

Grep comes from g/re/p, which is an ed editor idiom, meaning that you
Globally search for the Regular Expression and Print matching lines in
the input. That is, indeed, more or less obscure - but beautifully
so. And you don't really have to know what a command means, it's
enough to know how to use it.

In general, the use of grep is not so hard to learn if you only want
to search for fixed text strings. But can you do more complicated
searches with your NT? Like search a file for strings that start with
a capital letter and end in a colon or semicolon and which must not
contain any numbers. With grep, it's simply grep '^[A-Z][^0-9]*[;:]$'
It looks bewildering at first and may not be obvious to non-Un*x
users, but the point is that complicated searches like this
_can_be_done_ if need be.

> try doing a search for a particular file sometime-it is not a case of
> opening a file manager, opening "file", "search" and entering a text

Yes it is. Most Un*ces nowadays do have a file manager, or even
several file managers from which you can choose your favourite. And,
if your system is well managed, it'll have a utility called 'locate'
or 'find' that you can use as well. Just say 'locate file' and it'll
give you a list of all files whose absolute path names contain the
given string.

> string. adding a new device to the network here such as a printer is
> a major ordeal, sometimes taking weeks to accomplish. i use Un*x only

Somebody stated in an earlier message of this thread, that NT is bug
free and bulletproof if you have the right SysAdmin running it. That's
probably true, except that NT is not bug free nor bulletproof. Un*ces
are exactly the same in this respect: if you have the right SysAdmin
who knows what he/she is doing, you won't have too many problems with
it. Adding a new printer to an already working system will take
approximately ten to fifteen minutes, including the physical
installation work. And Un*ces are not bug free nor bulletproof
either. The main difference is that bugs and bulletholes can usually
be fixed by a knowing system administrator.

With Un*x and a competent system administrator you get security,
reliability, performance, felixibility and interoperability. And, if
you choose, also user friendliness in the form of an easy-to-use
GUI. And most of the software you'll ever need are available in the
Internet free of charge. And you can even run a Windows emulator and
Windows applications on top of many versions of Un*x.

> moment. examples of garbage aka Unixs commands are: ls -al , to
> list files, listlp to list print cues, man to get obscure help on
> commands (if it available), cp -r to copy directories etcv...

Actually it's just 'ls' to list files. 'ls -al' lists all files in
long format. Additionally 'ls -lat' lists all files in a long format
sorted by last modification time and 'ls -latu' sorts them by last
access time; in addition to these, there are about 20 more standard
options to the ls command. The point again is, that it _can_be_done_
if need be. Can you do the same with 'dir' or your NT file

What's wrong with the 'listlp' command? It's just as good as 'lpstat'
or 'lpq'. And again, there are graphical 'printer managers' available
which will list the the print queues by the click of a mouse.

The 'man' command does not give you any obscure help - instead it
gives you exact, detailed description of commands and their
options. It's very useful because a typical Un*x installation usually
has more than 1500 commands and nobody can remember all of them, let
alone all of their options. And if you don't remember the exact
spelling of a command you can do keyword searches with 'man -k'. For
example if you don't remember the fascinatingly obscure command
'grep', you may try something like 'man -k search'. That'll give you a
list of commands whose description contains the keyword 'search' and
you'll probably find your 'grep' there.

'cp -r' copies the directories and their contents recursively. True. Try
to do that with your DOS-prompt 'copy'. And by the way, if you don't
want to use 'cp', you can always revert to the graphical file
manager and drag and drop your files and directories.

You forgot 'vi'. The mother of all text editors. There's no way one
could enough praise the excellence of vi. And then there's emacs, of

> hopefully NT and mac OS will drive unix into the dirt, 6 feet under
> where it belongs.

I personally hope that NT, Win95 and MacOS and friends will survive
and evolve to better operating systems that can be used together with
different flavours of Un*x, and with each other. In the meanwhile,
Windows and MacOS make my life much more interesting by providing me
with endless challenges when I'm trying to make them work together in
a heterogenous computer network.


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