Gather ’round kids for tales of yore. It used to be possible to write software that simply did its job and that was it. There was no need to keep changing it.
It was a simpler, but still complicated, time back in the day when Dennis, Brian, Rob and less-sung heroes were ardently trying to convince AT&T management that Unix could be a streamlined version of Multics. They got shot down (“Are you guys nuts? That was huge a failure.”) and had to cook up a scheme their management could swallow.
I wonder if they were influenced by SGML and Charles Goldfarb from IBM. Their pitch was to write a system that marked up documents using semantic content that made them amenable to computer processing. They used
nroff as cover to write Unix.
One of their most brilliant accomplishments was the notion of a hierarchical filesystem where files were just a stream of characters, and the hardware was fast enough at the time to make this practical. There were people then who didn’t trust giving up their data to this abstraction. How do you know where your data is if you didn’t spin up a disk and seek to the sector you wrote it to?
How often do standard Unix commands need to be rewritten? They are simple, orthogonal programs acting on a stream of bytes.
Eliding a lot of history so I can get to my point, and mad props to Linus for his brilliant work, but git was something he wrote for himself to deal with the influx of Linux kernel patches he had to deal with. He didn’t want to pay money for proprietary software that did a better job.
People not as smart as Linus started to put, as they say, porcelain around his plumbing infrastructure.
And there seems to be no end is sight. Tonight I had to deal with the latest “improvements” on github. Hence my post instead of working on my open source software. I have to spend time figuring out their latest tweaks to do that.
“The new native
Extend your GitHub workflow beyond your browser with GitHub Desktop, completely redesigned with Electron. Get a unified cross-platform experience that’s completely open source and ready to customize.”
No, thanks. Electron? What happened to Atom or even VS Code?
Could you kids please get on my lawn. I’ll even buy you a lemonade. Just stop pretending change is better.