Stross on Unix religion




There’s a lot of truth there.

By the way, this is why so many Unix command names are cryptic contractions. Multics was one of the first operating sytems where a single file could have multiple names. As a result, most Multics commands had both aLongNameThatWasEasyToRememberButHardToType, and asnlt (a short name like this). Unix decided that since nobody ever used the long names anyway, they might as well drop those and just keep the convenient short names.

(There is a certain amount of truth to the old joke that Unix originated as “castrated Multics”. Multics subset/substiset, certainly.)


I’ll risk a flamewar by saying that Android (and IOS) are more like scientology, Cause they’re all about bilking people out of their money.


I’m not sure I buy this 100%, as I see the protestant reformation as less about religion, and more about the origins of modern states (ie, the creation of state churches was part and parcel of creating nation-states). But it’s certainly interesting food for thought. I think he might be right in the sense that people tend to get downright religious in their choice of OS… Nor is he the first to draw religiously tinted parallels - Eric Raymond’s Cathedral and the Bazaar piece from back in the day.


And Mac isn’t? Plus, isn’t there a free fork of Android now? Not saying that Android isn’t about making money, but it’s hardly the only one that is, to be perfectly fair. Anything that isn’t put out into the community, free of charge (or for a nominal fee, to cover costs of production), is profit making commodities. I’m not arguing they shouldn’t be, but that they are.


From the Real Old Time Religion Archive at (thanks to Joe Betancourt. . .)


CHORUS: Gimme that database religion
Gimme that database religion
Gimme that database religion
It’s good enough for me…

Let us bow to mighty UNIX
And its heiroglyphic runix
Wearing print-out paper tunix
And that’s good enough for me!

I will learn to use SQL,
So my searches will all run well,
Though the learning curve can be hell,
It’s good enough for me!

(many, many more . . .)

Now the Internet is wired
With the texts that we require
For our rites to be inspired -
They’re on World Wide FTP!


Ah yes it is so is windows, but it seems to me that the cell phone companies are responsible for attempting to monetize Android and IOS beyond what is currently possible on the desktop.

In cellphoneland, every little interaction with your phone is designed to generate profit.


Eh, an OS is just a tool. If the computer spits out data in a format you find useful, it’s the right tool for your job.

Now let’s torture the analogy and talk about how religion is also a tool.


True enough on that point.


In the beginning was the command line.


In the beginning were the sense switches.


The analogy runs even deeper, at least if you look back to the OLD days.
Like you were born into a specific religion (most likely the one your parents adhered to) you didn’t get to choose your OS in the days before personal computers.
You had to use whatever your school, college, office or whatever had and ran, and you had to run with it.


Never saw no command line on no punchcard…
CDC Cyber 172 + FORTRAN 77. Oh my.


Ah! But I do remember one on the hard-copy terminals we had in college. DEC-10’s with DECWriter terminals and Pascal.


Terminals? Luxury.


When I was a boy… (Well, when Frank Hayes was a boy, actually.)


This reminds me of the classic If Programming Languages Were Religions.

EDIT: Seems the site where it was originally posted is down. This link works.


So Android/iOS are like the “church of Prosperity” then?


when i used punch cards , we had to add special cards before and after our decks , these were command line equivalents ~ when i used paper tape , it ran real slow , but it was faster then setting switches ~ and we liked it !! later , we ran cassette tapes at several hundred bits per second , and that was screaming fast !! and we liked it !! 350 megabyte per spindle disk packs came later still , and at the size of a washing machine ; but only large insurance companies , banks , and governments ever would need to store such large data sets ~ and we liked it !!! operating systems were for " big iron " , we had loaders , perhaps monitors ~ posix never quite ran on 8 bit machines , although minix kinda almost did ~ and we liked it !! religion my forth was !! and who can forget the cult of ada !! fortran iv with watfor and watfiv !! motorola 68 k with orthogonal registers !! and we LIKED it !! cobol then , cobol before then , and cobol now !! st hopper we invoke thee !! and we like it !! at least on sundays ~


Or this:

(lots of this on the net, but this was the first on the list with pictures)