[Beowulf] 9 traits of the veteran Unix admin
Peter St. John
peter.st.john at gmail.com
Thu Feb 17 10:42:50 PST 2011
"I'm guessing that he [the ubergeek] has figured out how to hotwire init so
that it just forks emacs and skips everything else..." [RGB]
I think essentially they had that: Lisp used to be inefficient (as, aimed at
the way logicians think, not at the way machines think) on general purpose
hardware like the PDP, so in the 70's Lisp workstations were developed (at
MIT, the same time by the same people as emacs, which wasn't ported to unix
until 81, the year I learned C & vi). When in the early 90's I debated with
one of the Unix Haters, Judy Anderson (of Stanford and PARC), I asked, "OK,
so what is better than Unix?" and was surprised: "nothing that isn't
proprietary" (their beloved lisp workstations). So who was it that quipped,
"Emacs would be a great operating system if only it had a decent editor"?
For them, the editor, the language, and the firmware were all each other.
It's all good. You can be close to the machine (C), the logician (Lisp), the
engineer (fortran). You can express yourself with long sentences from a
small alphabet/vocabulary (assembler, symbolic logic) or short sentences
from a large vocabulary (APL, differential topology); use tools that do one
job well (vi) or that are mutable into anything as needed (emacs). It's all
good. We all have preferences, we are all finite, and different needs are
In the Religion Wars there is imbalance between "Berkely, Bell, Unix, vi, C"
versus "Stanford, MIT, emacs, Lisp". Really we need a "GNU FOSS Sourceforge
Red Hat" OS that integrates with emacs and Lisp, so we can all make the
choice for ourselves. "Microsoft SCO Adobe Visual Studio Flash" wont' do it
for us :-)
On Thu, Feb 17, 2011 at 10:59 AM, Robert G. Brown <rgb at phy.duke.edu> wrote:
> On Thu, 17 Feb 2011, Leif Nixon wrote:
> > "Robert G. Brown" <rgb at phy.duke.edu> writes:
> >> How big are the emacs sources these days? I mean, the installed binary
> >> and common packages alone are 22 MB in F14... and was that 73 MB
> >> installed? Why, it was, wasn't it. :-)
> > And it's all full of goodness!
> I'll bet it is!
> And somewhere in the world, just imagine, there is actually a geek -- in
> fact, I'd like to think of him as >>the<< ubergeek, an actual
> evolutionary advance in ordinary geeks (at least, he would be if he were
> ever able to reproduce), the geek whose blood serum is 2/3 Jolt cola and
> 1/3 Mountain Dew and who last actually got up from his workstation
> console in 1994, the first year one was able to order new computer
> hardware online for home delivery from the Web (using emacs ported to
> the Commodore Amiga, of course, to actually >>access<< the web) -- who
> knows >>every feature<< of emacs, how to use every single thing that it
> can do. In fact, like many emacs users, he doesn't bother with silly
> things like mail clients, word processors, web browsers, editors,
> windowing interfaces, or command line interfaces OUTSIDE of emacs,
> because he never actually exits emacs. Secretly, he doesn't really see
> the point of consoles, xterms, shells and most software, because emacs
> can simply replace them all.
> I'm guessing that he has figured out how to hotwire init so that it just
> forks emacs and skips everything else. That is, assuming that he hasn't
> actually hacked emacs directly into the kernel. Who needs init, anyway?
> One can start anything just as easily from inside emacs as by forking
> off of init, right...?
> > --
> > Leif Nixon - Security officer
> > National Supercomputer Centre - Swedish National Infrastructure for
> > Nordic Data Grid Facility - European Grid Infrastructure
> > _______________________________________________
> > Beowulf mailing list, Beowulf at beowulf.org sponsored by Penguin Computing
> > To change your subscription (digest mode or unsubscribe) visit
> Robert G. Brown http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
> Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
> Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
> Phone: 1-919-660-2567 Fax: 919-660-2525 email:rgb at phy.duke.edu
> Beowulf mailing list, Beowulf at beowulf.org sponsored by Penguin Computing
> To change your subscription (digest mode or unsubscribe) visit
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Beowulf