The Unix Pestilence

(A gander into unix info tech industry and a logo tour)

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

I liken starting one's computing career with Unix, say as a undergraduate, to being born in East Africa. It is intolerably hot, your body is covered with lice and flies, you are malnourished and you suffer from numerous curable diseases. But, as far as young East Africans can tell, this is simply the natural condition and they live within it. By the time they find out differently, it is too late. They already think that the writing of shell scripts is a natural act.

— Ken Pier, Xerox PARC (~1980s?)

unix pestilence
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Info, info and info, wallow and swallow, is what i do daily. I have been a computing professional in the unix environment since 1998. Unlike most unix sys admin approaches of sloppiness and quickness, i'm of the systematic type who have read and researched massive amounts of info and docs related to unix and web technologies. The web is a information hotbed. Info run free-for-all, such that there's little need to buy tech books because they are all online in one form or another, provided you know how to find them. In these pages i present a annotated guide to unix related resources plus a logo tour. What you will glean from it is tidbits of unix history and culture, a douche of unix insights, and a taste of bitterness. If you are of the type “I don't care about learning but only that I get my job done quickly so that my boss is happy” then this page is not for you. (get out of my way) If you are inclined to think, to be systematic, produce quality and permanent work, then i dare say this page will be useful to you.

Unix advocating morons, computing professionals, and info suckers, get ready to be pissed off, but make yourself comfortable.

2007 Addendum: This page was mostly written in 2003, from experiences as a unix professional spanning about 1998 to 2002. At those time, free online unix resources on the web is still spotty, and it is worthwhile to have link collection of quality sites. However, today, web resources have multiplied some order of thousands fold, in online books and documentations, in number of unix-related online forums, mailing lists, instant messaging rooms (For example, irc), and there's the encompassing wikipedia. Today, it is very easy to locate even esoteric technical info thru web search sites. This page as a unix documentation meta-resource is no longer relevant. Also, computing industry esp unix have changed incredibly fast. For example, during dot-com days, Red Hat is one of the primary Linux distributor. Today, many new linux distributors (For example, Ubuntu, Linspire (was Lindows)) has risen and surpassed Red Hat. This site now serves only as a logo tour and unix commentary from the perspective of 2003. Unlinked URL means the URL is defunct.

Unix Operating System Administration

unix Sys Admin: noun. a person who is interested in computer science and literature but understands neither. —Xah Lee, ~2002

Unix system administrators are the most sophomoric group in the computing world. Sloppy tech creates fatuous folks. Whatever, but it pays. Wanna be a unix sys admin? No need to buy unix books. I've read tons of unix related books, but I find that the best resources are not in printed books made by third parties, but rather the online docs of the Unixes in question. When i started my unix career in 1997 i didn't know this nor is the online docs mature or comprehensive, and have read a bunch of unix books. Now i'm rather seasoned and i can give a guide to unix beginners and pro alike.


SGI produces a unix called Irix. The Irix community is much less susceptible to the unix inanity because their OS focuses on graphical applications, and is “unix” only as a stable OS kernel, much like NeXTStep or Apple with Mac OS X.

NeXT Computer Inc


Unix Tools and Software

On Apache, samba, sudo, sendmail, vi, cvs, lynx, MySQL… the unix standard baggage of incompetence, and more (gcc, qMail, postgreSQL, emacs…).

Unix History 2000, Software

Unix Shells and shell commands

sh, csh, tcsh, ksh and still SHit. Please proceed to this fascinating subject, with its own genealogy and fine pedigree. The Unix Pestilence: Shells

Computer Languages

Perl Books Survey 2002

Perl's gluing ability goes beyond computation, to people. To the poor and have-nots. It unites people in the computing field who are not endowed with engaging brains. It is the sanctuary of dunces. The expressions of those thoughtless. The godsend for brainless coders. The means and banner of sys admins. The lingua franca of trial-and-error hackers. The song and dance of stultified engineers. —Xah Lee, 2000-12

Perl Books Survey 2002

Software Engineering Paradigms and Practice

The software industry predicament:

Object Oriented Programing fad, Design Patterns voodoo, eXtreme Programing flam, sloppy and irresponsible mentality with licensing disclaimer scam. And, under-educated programers, uninformed consumers, tech-un-savvy menagerie, with computer scientists sitting-pretty in their ivory-tower cloisters.

Voodoos of Software Engineering

Gnu is Not Unix

The X-Windows Disaster

The X-Windows Disaster

The Unix Pestilence