The history of Unix systems and their main components. Please DO NOT USE this tag for shell-related questions; use [tag:command-history] instead.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

4
votes
2answers
4k views

What does the “rc” stand for in /etc/rc.d? [duplicate]

Does anybody have an idea about the full form of rc.d in, for example, /etc/rc.d? It contains scripts to used to control the starting, stopping and restarting of daemons. But what exactly is the ...
1
vote
1answer
401 views

Is the Linux implementation of the system configuration “variable” ARG_MAX different from other system variables and is it POSIX compliant?

In the shell, as explained in this this Q&A in the context of expansion, depending on the system, the maximum length of a command's argument is initially constrained by the kernel setup. The ...
1
vote
1answer
184 views

What is “Charlie &” in the gecos field on OpenBSD for root?

Question: what is "Charlie &" for the root user? I didn't gave "Charlie &" for gecos field, I think I didn't gave any at all. ps.: the "/sbin/nologin" doesn't matters, I just tested ...
5
votes
3answers
337 views

Why BitchX is called BitchX?

Well, the title is pretty much self-explanatory, but for sake of completeness, I'm curious to know the reason for the name of BitchX. I searched on internet for etymology but it was a fail. I hope ...
92
votes
3answers
17k views

Why are tar archive formats switching to xz compression to replace bzip2 and what about gzip?

More and more tar archives use the xz format based on LZMA2 for compression instead of the traditional bzip2(bz2) compression. In fact kernel.org made a late "Good-bye bzip2" announcement, 27th Dec. ...
4
votes
1answer
92 views

Is the historical Unix V5 tr command padding behavior of set2 different from what we consider today “classic” System V (1983-1988) behavior?

The tr command is almost 40 years old. It seemingly appeared in Unix for the first time in 1973 with Unix V4. The source for this is not available. Here is probably the second oldest available Unix ...
3
votes
1answer
151 views

When did Automake switch to using Perl

I tried to get remove Perl from my Ubuntu machine, but found that automake not only depends on Perl but itself is a Perl program. I read somewhere this was not always the case. Today I looked in the ...
18
votes
3answers
597 views

Use of ^ as a shell metacharacter

I wrote a small script today which contained grep -q ^local0 /etc/syslog.conf During review, a coworker suggested that ^local0 be quoted because ^ means "pipe" in the Bourne shell. Surprised by ...
4
votes
1answer
281 views

Presentation Tools Back In The Day

Which tools were around »back in the day« to aid presentation Unix/Linux environments? I just wondered how somebody would accomplish something like slides in a e.g. text-based environment or low-end ...
5
votes
4answers
370 views

Does Linux use original Unix code or do they share the idea? [duplicate]

Does the Linux kernel use original Unix code or do they share the idea? He mocked me and said it's a stupid question to ask and of course they share the idea not the code. Since both are written in C, ...
78
votes
3answers
12k views

Why is the root directory denoted by a / sign?

I have done some research about this on Google, but the results were cloudy. Why is the / sign used to denote the root directory. Are there any solid reasons behind it?
4
votes
1answer
562 views

What does the “f” in fdisk stand for?

gdisk stands for GPT fdisk. cfdisk stands for curses fdisk. And so on and so forth. However, what does the original "f" in fdisk stand for? The only things I can think of would be either "files" or ...
3
votes
4answers
503 views

How do you find what keys the “erase” and “line-kill” characters are in Ubuntu?

I'm new to Unix and have bought today a copy of "The Unix Programming Environment". I'm trying out the stuff from the book. But some of them are not working as expected like : To kill a line and ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does halt not turn the machine off? [duplicate]

shutdown now kills everything and then powers down the machine. halt kills everything and then... there is no step 2. It will sit, running but not doing anything, until people stop arguing over ...
46
votes
4answers
4k views

Why does no one use the true Bourne shell as /bin/sh?

I've noticed that basically no system I've ever worked with has /bin/sh as a real executable. It's always a symlink to dash, bash in POSIX mode, or something similar. Why? What are the disadvantages ...
3
votes
4answers
378 views

Is the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard a UNIX standard or a GNU/Linux standard?

The Filesystem Hierarchy Standard says where to put stuff in a UNIX distribution. Is the FHS used/designed for use outside of GNU/Linux, or is it mostly limited to GNU/Linux?
4
votes
1answer
165 views

Why does System V traditionally symlink /bin to /usr/bin?

This systemd wiki page about the /usr merge, under Myth #6, states that /bin has traditionally been a symlink to /usr/bin on System V UNIX. What is the motivation for this? For backwards ...
3
votes
1answer
179 views

What does it mean when something says that UNIX device files are static?

I've been reading up on udev. In the "overview" section, Wikipedia states that "unlike traditional Unix systems, where the device nodes in the /dev directory have been a static set of files, the Linux ...
11
votes
3answers
686 views

/usr/bin/ptx: Can you provide a use case or two?

I was going through the list of files included in coreutils and I was able to come up with an example of how I could personally use all of the commands provided except for ptx. Can you give one or two ...
149
votes
5answers
20k views

What's the story behind Super Cow Powers?

As we know, apt-get has Super Cow Powers and aptitude does not: $ apt-get --help | grep -i cow This APT has Super Cow Powers. $ aptitude --help | grep -i cow ...
5
votes
1answer
128 views

“globbing” (*) comes from “global command”… Huh?

According to legend, in the early days what we now call "globbing" (i.e. using expressions like e.g. *.c, ./*.p?) was supported by one certain program /etc/glob, whose name in turn derived from ...
1
vote
0answers
58 views

Where does backtick and single quote come from when denoting commands e.g. `prog'? [duplicate]

When referring to commands in tutorials, man pages, and articles I see authors use the backtick and single quote in this way: `./configure' `make' I believe I have seen gcc denote points of failure ...
4
votes
1answer
168 views

Why has the ANSI 3.64 standard been withdrawn?

From the Wikipedia "ANSI escape code" article: The name "ANSI escape sequence" dates from 1981 when ANSI adopted ECMA-48 as the standard ANSI X3.64 (and later, in 1997, withdrew it). Does ...
37
votes
4answers
12k views

What is the purpose of the hash command?

If you run hash it shows the path of all commands run since the hash was last reset (hash -r) [root@c04c ~]# hash hash: hash table empty [root@c04c ~]# whoami root [root@c04c ~]# hash hits ...
11
votes
2answers
6k views

How can you log every command typed

How can you log every command someone has entered into the shell? I'm asking on both the basis of protecting yourself if you are logged into someone else's server and something breaks, or if someone ...
4
votes
2answers
90 views

Why is the default choice for -I argument '{}'?

It seems you can pass in a variable name like 'file' for -I argument of xargs, but there are a plethora of examples that use {}. Is this because of the backward compatibility? Or does it help with the ...
6
votes
1answer
187 views

Where does this convention for quotation marks (`` …'') come from? [closed]

Frequently I get asked the question: ``K., where does this convention for quotation marks come from? You know, the one with the two grave accents introducing a quoted string and two regular ...
108
votes
3answers
7k views

Why not use “which”? What to use then?

When looking for the path to an executable or checking what would happen would you enter a command name in a Unix shell, there's a plethora of different utilities (which, type, command, whence, where, ...
26
votes
1answer
2k views

Were all Unix commands re-written in Linux?

I would like to know which commands were re-written for Linux and which were retained from Unix? I'm new to Linux.
1
vote
1answer
229 views

Who was James Farber and why was he important to Unix?

I've been reading papers on Plan 9 from Bell Labs. In the paper on why Plan 9's not dead yet, around page 18, the author mentions "Farber". Googling reveals this to be a James Farber, but all I can ...
1
vote
2answers
209 views

Is the GNU Coreutils copied from Unix?

Linux itself is not a copy of Unix because one can argue it simply conforms to the POSIX standard. However, how about the GNU Coreutils which contains utilities like ls, cd and rm, etc...? Is there ...
1
vote
1answer
191 views

SSH Authentication Mechanism

Doing a personal research project and I'm wondering: Why does SSH do its own mechanism negotiation rather than use SASL? At first I thought it might be to ensure confidentiality of the whole session, ...
2
votes
3answers
153 views

Why are POSIX Find Parameters Different from Other Program styles?

Why is a parameter in the POSIX find command added with a single hyphen for multi-character parameter names, while most other programs use single hyphen to indicate multiple single-character flags, ...
0
votes
2answers
110 views

When was the threading implemented in unix?

Which is the first Unix version or Linux version which implemented threads. And in which version bound and unbound threads were implemented? I know that in current Linux version threads are unbound by ...
29
votes
4answers
3k views

What is GNU Info for?

I understand what GNU Info is and how to use it, but what is it for? Why does it exist in parallel to the man pages? Why not write detailed man pages rather than provide a separate utility?
28
votes
3answers
4k views

Why is dmesg called dmesg?

Is there any explanation/history behind the name of the command dmesg (which prints out some kernel messages)?
5
votes
2answers
298 views

Which was the very first music player application for Linux?

I'm writing an article about FOSS and Linux music players. What was the very first music player application for Linux? Was there ever a time when the players didn't support proprietary formats like ...
4
votes
3answers
815 views

Is Linus Torvalds a hacker? [closed]

Maybe wrong place for the question, but I couldn't find the answer. The wiki says he's software engineer and hacker. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linus_Torvalds) Is it true? I must tell I haven't ...
3
votes
1answer
246 views

Why is resolv.conf spelled without the 'e'? [duplicate]

A curiosity question which google has been unable to answer for me: Why is 'resolv.conf' spelled without the trailing 'e'? I'm sure there's a valid historical reason going back to the early days of ...
22
votes
2answers
1k views

Why do Unix man pages use double backticks in place of double quotes?

I've noticed that man pages and other documents formatted by Unix utilities often use double backticks `` followed by double single quotes '' to wrap quoted phrases instead of the double quote ...
4
votes
3answers
226 views

CD into directory from HISTORY in a bash script or alias e.g. $(!!)

I often want to change into the directory of a file on my file system, but I'm not sure where the file is. I search for it like so: find -type f -name "myfile.txt" Lets say for the sake of ...
3
votes
1answer
112 views

how to record command which execute a programme suid

My question: Is there a way to record all commands who execute a suid programme? Like what .bash_history do, but only the setuid programmes.
6
votes
1answer
745 views

What are the origins of rgb.txt?

Where did the list of X11 color names come from? Every resource I've found online claims the origin is unknown, but it must be recorded somewhere. The best information I've found was in an archived ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is JFS so obscure?

When I first got into using Slackware years ago I quickly learned to love JFS over ext3 or reiserfs given that it was reliable and if there was an unclean shutdown, its disk checking was very very ...
7
votes
2answers
235 views

When was the concept of remote repositories invented?

When were remote repositories, for any package manager, invented and implemented?
1
vote
1answer
123 views

view history of opened programs Manjaro Linux

Is there a way to view a log, or history of all programs opened in Manjaro Linux?
7
votes
1answer
427 views

Who are these BSD Unix contributors?

I'm trying to piece together the names of the people who contributed to BSD Unix, according to the contents of the SCCS logs. (This is the version control system used at the time.) A number of names ...
26
votes
1answer
4k views

Why was '.' chosen to represent the current directory and '..' for parent directory?

After reading this question Design question: Why was '~' chosen to represent the home directory?, next obvious question on my mind was why '.' and '..' was used to represent current directory ...
6
votes
3answers
222 views

When were the first graphical app installers created for Linux distributions

Having a discussion at work with a colleague, and he is claiming graphical installers for *nix environments have only been available for the last few years, but I can't find any solid information on ...
2
votes
2answers
355 views

Where did Redhat derive from?

Where did Redhat derive from? Did it derive directly from Linus Torvaldis linux distro (2 years earlier) or did it have roots in BSD or System-V ?? I am just wondering how to classify Redhat in the ...