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Questions tagged [history]

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

2
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1answer
50 views

can anybody share the thought process about having coredump in systemd? [closed]

While I have found /var/lib/systemd/coredump/* to be extremely useful when gdb doesn't give the right answers, I have not been able to figure out the rationale behind it and what existed before it, in ...
1
vote
2answers
61 views

What is the history behind the name of the xdev option in find?

I find the name of the xdev option counterintuitive. For me it seems like the abbreviation of 'cross device (search)'. However it does the opposite, it restricts the search to a single file system. ...
28
votes
6answers
6k views

Why was `cp` designed to silently overwrite existing files? [closed]

I tested cp with the following commands: $ ls first.html second.html third.html $ cat first.html first $ cat second.html second $ cat third.html third Then I copy first.html to second.html: $ ...
0
votes
0answers
35 views

What does 'GFX' mean in GRUB's 'gfxterm', 'GRUB_GFXMODE', 'GRUB_GFXPAYLOAD_LINUX' names?

I know, why xterm named this way: xterm is the standard terminal emulator for the X Window System, so X + Terminal = xterm. Is there similar logic in the gfxterm name, the GRUB's graphical terminal? ...
1
vote
1answer
26 views

Delete specific command history and current “command” history that just recently typed

How to delete a specific command history and when you enter that "command" that will delete the specific command? For example, here is my history: 1 ls -l 2 cat > foo.txt 3 ifconfig 4 echo "Hello"...
2
votes
2answers
86 views

How did run-parts get its name?

I understand what run-parts does but I would like to know why the program is called run-parts. I've never heard someone call an executable in a directory a part. Why did the author name it run-parts ...
108
votes
6answers
20k views

If Linux is only a kernel, then how were its first versions used (without distribution)?

Linux is only a kernel, and if users want to use it, then they need a complete distribution. That being said, how were the first versions of Linux used when there were no Linux distributions?
7
votes
1answer
134 views

Why was `.` chosen to represent the dot command?

I am wondering after seeing this question why the . symbol was chosen to represent the dot command? I am not able to find much about it's origin or who created it and am curious as to why a full stop ...
0
votes
2answers
73 views

Why has there been so little innovation with autoconf configure scripts in the Unix and Linux ecosystem? [closed]

A great deal of time is lost at the time of ./configure; especially when dependencies are missing and the subsequent calling thereof. I've read many topics on this subject citing that caching the ...
0
votes
1answer
151 views

What is the etymology of $PS1? [closed]

What do the letters PS stand for in $PS1? Is it actually "Prompt String"? Where did $PS1 first appear?
35
votes
3answers
4k views

How do pipelines limit memory usage?

Brian Kernighan explains in this video the early Bell Labs attraction to small languages/programs being based on memory limitations A big machine would be 64 k-bytes--K, not M or G--and so that ...
5
votes
0answers
150 views

How was Unix installed in the 70's-80's?

Well I've been around computers since the late 80's(I was like 3 actually). Went the whole mile: Atari Xl-XE, MS-DOS, Windows 3.1, 95, etc. Then started using Linux because of the looks(yes I know, ...
3
votes
1answer
119 views

When was the environment variable PS1 created?

I've always seen reference to pwd as being very essential 'back in the day'. These days we have customized command prompts like PS1 that display the current directory and pwd is pretty outmoded. But ...
13
votes
1answer
753 views

When were background processes invented?

Looking for both a date and authoritative reference. Expected answer sometime in the 1960's. This information is essential for writing an impactful feature request.
0
votes
1answer
67 views

When was command line parsing first introduced to shell?

Per a discussion in Chat, when was command line parsing (using positional parameters) first introduced to the Unix shell? And also, was the naming of $1, $2 etc. in any way borrowed from C (for ...
6
votes
2answers
120 views

What, if any, naming convention was used for the standard Unix commands?

I was trying to find the naming convention for Linux commands. For commands like cp, rm, mv, etc it seems to be based on first and second last character like move is mv list is ls copy is cp change ...
0
votes
0answers
28 views

Why does usermod default to overwriting secondary groups?

As anyone who has used usermod to add a user to a group knows, invariably a mistake will be made (probably once in a career and not again) in which -a is forgotten and the secondary groups are ...
2
votes
2answers
104 views

When (and from which places) does the `-h` (help) command-line option come from? [closed]

Historically, which places (and when) does the -h command-line option come from? I’m speaking of the meaning matching the one of --help not --human-readable. Some command use the later (such as du or ...
6
votes
2answers
150 views

What does the plus, “+”, in GTK+ mean and what is its history?

What does the "+" in GTK+ mean and what is its history? I read through https://www.gtk.org/overview.php but did not see mention of the "+" origin or meaning.
0
votes
2answers
346 views

Why no such non-interactive version of bashrc?

From what I understanding, a daemon is a background process, but daemon requires unique config file to set the environment variable. E.g. Hadoop daemon require hadoop-env.sh to set environment ...
0
votes
2answers
112 views

Trying to understand the historical TTY

I am trying to understand Linux' terminal subsystem, especially the tty drivers and line discipline. Apparently, the architecture of this subsystem stems from a time where teletypewriters (ttys) were ...
61
votes
3answers
10k views

Why is Unix 'self-supporting'?

I was reading Ritchie and Thompson's paper about the Unix file system. They write, 'It is worth noting that the system is totally self-supporting'. Were the systems before Unix not self-supporting? In ...
3
votes
2answers
155 views

What is the meaning behind FreeBSD bootloader ASCII art daemon letters?

FreeBSD bootloader includes an ASCII art daemon. Is there any meaning behind the letters "s, y, o", or is just a random choice?
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Original Unix Box Number of Commands

When looking at Unix, I always find the number of terminal commands to be a little overwhelming. TinyCoreLinux, by example my favorite distribution, has over 300 commands. I can't tell how necessary ...
1
vote
2answers
277 views

Why did the system call registers and order change from Intel 32bit to 64bit?

I was working on memorizing the order of the Linux system calls so I could more easily identify this. And, then I found this paper here, and it says, To make a system call in 32-bit Linux, place ...
-1
votes
2answers
231 views

Has /bin/sh always been a symbolic link?

In Ubuntu, /bin/sh is a symbolic link that points to /bin/dash. Has there been a Unix or Unix-like operating system where /bin/sh was an actual shell and not a symbolic link that points to a shell?
84
votes
4answers
14k views

Why does Linux use LF as the newline character?

As far as I know, every operating system has a different way to mark the end of line (EOL) character. Commercial operating systems use carriage return for EOL (carriage return and line feed on Windows,...
24
votes
1answer
2k views

Since when do the POSIX and GNU rm not delete /?

For several years now, the GNU rm utility won't delete / unless it is called with the --no-preserve-root option. However, the command rm -rf / has been lodged in the collective subconscious as ...
-1
votes
1answer
54 views

write shell script similar history in console [closed]

I try to write a simple script and store all my favor commands such as grep, find, sed. when I use history command in shell, I can show all the historical commands with (history) I can reuse the the ...
-1
votes
1answer
99 views

Origin of tee's name

Does anybody know where the tee command-line utility got it's name, I can't seem to find anything.
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Why did wireless tools version 30 become a permanent beta?

I found some good information about wireless tools in this Q/A. Apparently it was introduced to the Linux kernel in 1997 by Jean Tourrhiles sponsored by Hewlett Packard. Edit: It seems WE(Wireless ...
0
votes
1answer
113 views

RHEL /usr/local v.s. /usr on NFS - mount/unmount order?

At least historically, Red Hat wrote In Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the intended use for the /usr/local/ directory is slightly different from that specified by the FHS. The FHS says that /usr/local/ ...
9
votes
1answer
299 views

Etymology of $PWD

What is the etymology of $PWD? Is it an acronym? I know there is a command pwd which prints working directory, but to my mind, it would have made more sense to name the variable $CWD for Current ...
2
votes
0answers
168 views

Is NTFS proprietary and what does that mean? [closed]

Every source I can find says that NTFS is proprietary Microsoft code, but I can still find the specifications for it and open source drivers, like NTFS-3G, made by Tuxera. I can't find any record of ...
1
vote
1answer
110 views

Was Debian the first distribution to distinguish upstream and packaging changelogs?

I like the way Debian gives various changelogs. For instance for most packages it has changelog.gz, the upstream changelog giving details of the differences between any two versions or at times even ...
2
votes
0answers
131 views

What does the “S_I” part mean in S_IRUSR etc?

According to POSIX, sys/stat.h shall define a bunch of macro constants such as S_IRUSR. The "R" part obviously means "Readable" and the "USR" part "User" (the owner of the file.) Then what about the ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Linux version number convention

With the first version of Linux, is the correct version number 0.01 (as seen in Tanenbaum's OS book) or should the first version be written 0.0.1 including the dot?
4
votes
0answers
83 views

Clarification on the history of Unix

Doing some research on the early days of Unix, and have some question marks. Hope you can help me clarify: Multics was designed by Bell, AT&T, MIT. Bell withdrew from the project and Ken Thompson ...
0
votes
1answer
50 views

inconsistency Linux server history

We are using cent OS machines for production environment, some times web application [Jboss] is giving hour back time stamp instead of current time. even in server history also having inconsistent ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the source of the “compile it yourself” mentality in linux [closed]

I used Linux a bit in college, and am familiar with the terms. I develop in .NET languages regularly, so I'm not computer illiterate. That said, I can't really say I understand the "compile it ...
1
vote
1answer
43 views

What is the origin of multi-line change log entries?

Being able to dig into software history and find a proper justification for the code is great. I think I first saw these in Linux patches - pre-source control. Obviously when Git was written, it ...
4
votes
1answer
462 views

utmp, wtmp and btmp: what is the 'tmp'

From the earlier question: why are utmp, wtmp and btmp called as they are? I would like to now what the 'tmp' part is. Is it 'temp/temporary'. As you can see from the earlier question, that part ...
4
votes
1answer
307 views

0–127 range limit on WEXITSTATUS in old Unix?

It is well known that, on many if not all Unixes, a process's exit status will be truncated to its lowest 8 bits when passed through _exit, waitpid, and WEXITSTATUS. (Current iterations of POSIX ...
4
votes
1answer
254 views

What's special about “!xxx%s%s%s%s%s%s%s%s”?

I was linked to The Unix-Haters Handbook and stumbled on (page 149): Subject: Relevant Unix bug October 11, 1991 Fellow W4115x students— While we’re on the subject of activation ...
35
votes
9answers
5k views

What do the large computers that real terminals were connected to look like?

I am studying the history of computers to better understand why Linux terminals work the way they do. I have read that in the mid 1970's to the mid 1980's, most people used real terminals (as opposed ...
9
votes
2answers
5k views

Why is the primary admin UID 501?

I understand* the primary admin user is given a user ID of 501 and subsequent users get incremental numbers (502, 503, …). But why 501? What’s special about 50x, what’s the historical/technical reason ...
-2
votes
1answer
232 views

Origin of “Yellow dog Updater, Modified”?

Everywhere it is said that yum is "Yellow dog Updater, Modified". But Google-ing all around can't find me the origin, possibly "Yellow dog Updater (unmodified)". As opposed to this, the origin of ...
8
votes
5answers
4k views

Why does UNIX/Linux provide multiple terminals?

In the 1970’s we had hardware terminal with CUI (character user interface) interface for input/output. Now, we have terminal emulators (Ctrl+Alt+Fn) in Unix/Linux world. In Ubuntu OS, I see seven ...
7
votes
2answers
394 views

Why is the name of the MAKEDEV script spelled in all caps?

While usually all Linux commands are spelled in lowercase, that's not the case of the MAKEDEV script, which is in uppercase. Is there a reason for that?
5
votes
2answers
973 views

What does 'touch' stand for?

My question is not so much a question of computer science as it is a question of etymology. The command touch changes file access and modification times. What does 'touch' stand for?