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.

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History command not working in VIM

I am trying to append or export the terminal's history into my history.html for a class. I am using Ubuntu 18. I use history >> history.html that I am executing in another file but it gives me ...
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461 views

What was the first file system in Linux distribution/s?

What was the first file system in Linux distribution/s? The "parallel" to FAT (?) in Windows at the early nineties? I want to know the name to read information about this; perhaps it was the ...
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Why has ls never had a parsable option implemented? [duplicate]

So we all know you shouldn't parse ls for many reasons, mostly due to filenames allowing almost every character. However why has nobody been able to overcome this in an implementation of ls? Many ...
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What is the history of command line argument format (--arg and -arg) we commonly use today?

There is no requirement from most programs to get their arguments in format but it is now settled that all command line programs use this kind of format for arguments. I can easily make other formats ...
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How to remove up arrow to search the history?

I am not really good with Linux but I got one premade server which has Linux on it to supervise. The OS is CentOS 7. I noticed that the up arrow allows the search of past commands (not only for the ...
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3answers
615 views

Were there Unix equivalents to BBSes?

During the 1980s and 1990s Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) were widely used on all kinds of computers. The BBS Documentary documents the rise and fall of the BBS subculture. Watching this documentary ...
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1answer
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Since when do Unix systems support birth/creation time (btime/crtime) for files and directories?

Does anyone know when Unix supports birth/creation time stamps for files and directories? If possible also when first file manager (GUI) displays it by default for users. For comparison with Windows, ...
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2answers
126 views

What is the historical reason for limits on file descriptors (ulimit -n)

When I first borrowed an account on a UNIX system in 1990, the file limit was an astonishing 1024, so I never really saw that as a problem. Today 30 years later the (soft) limit is a measly 1024. I ...
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Why does ed support backreferences but not alternations in regular expressions?

I was looking into the history and development of regular expressions. I found the following timeline: 1956 -- Kleene introduces regular expressions in his paper on nerve nets. 1964 -- Brzozowsi ...
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Why does ZFS rollback destroy intermediate snapshots?

Having used btrfs before, I was surprised to find out that rolling back a snapshot in ZFS not only changes the “working set” of files, but also requires that any snapshots which are newer than the ...
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1answer
32 views

Less stopped saving search history

less used to save my search history to $HOME/.lesshst. A few days ago it stopped saving any new search patterns. I still see the old search patterns in $HOME/.lesshst, but the new ones are not saved ...
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Why is the Mesa OpenGL driver for Intel chips called i965?

As I understand, most Intel GPUs are supported on Linux by two different components : i965 (the Mesa/OpenGL part, supporting all recent Intel GPUs) and i915 (kernel part, similarly supporting all ...
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How did /var/lib get its name?

The Linux Filesystem Hierarchy Standard says that /var/lib "holds state information pertaining to an application or the system." FreeBSD doesn't mention /var/lib in hier(7). The closest ...
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1answer
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Did fwrite/fread(3) offer different “multiple items” behavior on different platforms historically?

The fread(3) and fwrite(3) have an extra parameter for a variable number of items. So a typical write often has a hardcoded count when all it has is a char buffer to begin with e.g. fwrite(data, len, ...
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Why does `dd` have `swab` functionality

The manpage for dd notes an option swab swab swap every pair of input bytes Why? Don't ask me what I'm trying to do -- I'm not doing anything in particular, I'm just scratching my head. If were ...
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when /proc/cpuinfo begin to update all the time, especially the field “cpu MHz”? [duplicate]

I saw that /proc/cpuinfo update all the time, especially the field "cpu MHz"? I assumed that these details should be constant. When did /proc/cpuinfo begin to update all the time, especially ...
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What ever became of the “prep” program? And what can I use instead on modern Linux systems?

Long ago, in Seventh Edition UNIX (a/k/a V7), there was a program called prep. Its primary use was to take files of text, and break them up into one word per line, for further processing by other ...
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1answer
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Proprietary files during the Unix wars

While reading some papers on the history and evolution of Unix, I keep falling on this text in some way or another even here about some files that were proprietary of AT&T and present in BSD ...
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124 views

Difference between bash $HOSTNAME and tcsh/zsh $HOST

Is there any difference between bash's $HOSTNAME and zsh's $HOST? If no, is there a historical reason for bash to chose the $HOSTNAME variable when tcsh and zsh use $HOST?
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is Linux a reverse engineering thing of Unix

I'm new to Unix/Linux, sorry if my question is dumb, below is my understand of the relationship of Unix and Linux, please correct me if I was wrong: Linus Torvalds wrote Linux kernel based on Unix (...
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1answer
178 views

What does LINUX stands for

Does the term "LINUX" stands for anything. Until now, I was of the opinion that this term is derived from "LINUS". However, some articles on internet give following: Linux = Linus Torvald's Unix ...
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3answers
408 views

What does the letter 'u' mean in umask?

Is it "user mask" or something? Wikipedia does not have details, but says the feature has been in Unix since 1978. POSIX just says it is the "file mode creation mask".
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Who was the person who actually coined the term “zombie process” and where were they working when they did?

Oftentimes there is a good story behind how a computer term got its name. I was wondering if anybody out there knew who the first person was that used/coined the term "zombie process", where was that ...
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3answers
397 views

Why is an executable called a “text file”?

In the course of updating software today I got the error "Text file busy", which got me wondering: Why is a Unix (or Linux) executable called a "text" file when that seems so counterintuitive and ...
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Why is cp's option not to overwrite files called --no-clobber?

cp is a massively popular Linux tool maintained by the coreutils team of the GNU foundation. By default, files with the same name will be overwritten, if the user wants to change this behaviour they ...
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Historically as well as today, what was or is the commonly accepted default argument for a command to show its help page?

I stumbled upon this the first time when I wanted to add an option -h to my program and got an error that -h is already in use: With add_help=True, Python's argparse automatically creates a help page ...
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2answers
203 views

What are EL2HLT, EL3HLT, EL3RST?

There was a thread about ENOANO, explaining an obscure errno macro that still lingers around. I would like to similarly ask about these errno values: what the hell were they for? EL2HLT "Level 2 ...
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1answer
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Why isn't installing with apt/yum to a home directory a mainstream feature?

This is a history related question of a sense, tightly related to the use cases of Linux. Am open to closing it if it's off topic. Why is the default to always use sudo when installing with package ...
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1answer
124 views

How can I find out more about the history of GNU coreutils commands?

Can I somehow find out more about the history of the development process of the GNU coreutils commands? For example, have su and runuser (which provide kind of similar functions, yet were decided to ...
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1answer
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What is the 38;5 sequence in $PS1?

I tried to find info online, but I could not find any. It seems that many people use a specific sequence of numbers, without actually providing any explanation why. More specifically, my $PS1 in ...
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2answers
2k views

why does rm need -r for an empty folder?

One thing that always bugged me: touch a rm a ok, it works as expected mkdir a rm a will require -r to work; but I don't understand what is recursive in this? if the folder is empty, there is ...
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2answers
623 views

Origin of the word console in computing

Nowadays within the programming community, console mostly refers to a text-based environment, either software (shells, terminals, cli) only or hardware included. But why is it so called?
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What happened to Bento Linux?

I came across a nifty device at a yard sale from ~2010, and at the time there was a distro called Bento Linux that had been ported to run on it. It seems that that distro died, but there are a ...
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6answers
1k views

Redirect output on-the-fly - looks not possible in Linux, why?

I tried web search but have not found answer by searching for Linux redirect output on the fly. As far as I understand, output to say stdout works by using file descriptor 1: $ ls -l /proc/pid/fd/1 ...
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When did Unix stop storing passwords in clear text?

When did Unix move away from storing clear text passwords in passwd? Also, when was the shadow file introduced?
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1answer
190 views

What is the historical reason for using curly braces {} as placeholder in find -exec

Everyone knows find . -exec foo {} \; and at some point stopped thinking about it. But recently I came back to the question that arose when I first learned it: Why would anyone choose {} as the ...
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1answer
53 views

Was /etc/yum/repos.d ever a thing?

In some places I've read, users have mentioned the path /etc/yum/repos.d along side /etc/yum.repos.d. Was this a path that actually used at some point? I even loaded of CentOS 5.11 and it's still /...
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48 views

How to find the changes done to a particular kernel module through all releases

I need to access source code of all past versions of read_write.c under /fs/ from 3.10 to 5.3. So far I had to go through https://elixir.bootlin.com/ repeatedly and look at every single version that ...
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1answer
172 views

Ampersand in the passwd GECOS field

When expanding the /etc/passwd GECOS field to get the user's full name, should we expand only the first ampersand (& character), or all ampersands? In a GECOS field with comma (,) delimited ...
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111 views

Why is the which command so hard to eradicate? [closed]

I'm coming from places like Why not use "which"? What to use then? and https://stackoverflow.com/questions/592620/how-to-check-if-a-program-exists-from-a-bash-script and am myself a long-...
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1answer
600 views

How to capitalize the word “unix”

Is "unix" supposed to be "unix", "Unix", or "UNIX"? The closest question I've seen is Expansion of the word UNIX. I also found this page that says it is only capitalized at the beginning of a ...
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132 views

Kind of files which just have extension, like .bashrc or .cshrc

I'm wondering about files that have a name starting with a dot e.g. .bashrc or .cshrc have distinct feature? (Could we say .bashrc extension?) Maybe these kind of files are a member of a category? ...
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106 views

Why does the command 'source' have that name?

I wonder why a command that executes commands from a file in the current shell is named source. I can't see a relation between run commands in the current shell and the meaning of the english word ...
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3answers
840 views

History: what is the meaning of the name 'xargs'?

The common unix utility program grep is an abbreviation of "globally search a regular expression and print", which makes grep a case of "does what it says on the tin". The name informs us of the ...
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1answer
19 views

Is there a way to get time-stamping of the mirror you update the index from?

As far as a I know, apt only records when either you or it i.e. apt did an apt hook to update the apt database. Is there a way for e.g. to know the time-stamp of the mirror or a way to know when a ...
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851 views

when did apt or apttitude or apt-get start supporting of last two releases for migration purposes

I was playing with my Debian install today and discovered an interesting thing. If I do for e.g. $ apt-key list /etc/apt/trusted.gpg -------------------- pub rsa4096 2019-04-15 [SC] [expires: 2024-...
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How do I enable listing of zsh commands as you type

on one of my machines while setting up zsh I seem to have accidentally enabled a pretty useful feature. when I search through command history it actually lists all the matching commands as I type. How ...
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1answer
320 views

Modify bash history from inside subshell in an interactive session

I executed history > before; (history -d $n); history > after where $n is the number corresponding to the last command I typed in the same interactive session before executing this line, The ...
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Why do ext2 inodes only have 12 direct blocks?

I'm currently writing a hobby file-system for fun. I was wondering if anyone knows why or where I could get information on the design philosophy of ext2. Specifically, I was wondering why each inode ...
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162 views

When and why did ^ and $ take on their meanings of “beginning of line” and “end of line?”

Many command-line tools (grep, flex, etc.) use the ^ symbol to denote "beginning of line" and the $ symbol to denote "end of line." When did this convention arise? It seems perfectly reasonable to ...

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