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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ksh not saving history in it's HISTFILE and HISTTIMEFORMAT not working

I have created a custom shell script and put it inside /etc/profile.d/ that declares the HISTFILE. It works on bash and sh however it does not seem to work in ksh. As can be seen below, it gets the ...
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Hardware requirements for BSD 4.4 Lite?

I am trying to track down the hardware requirements for BSD 4.4 Lite. I have a custom CPU, and I am currently looking at porting an OS to one as an afterthought. I picked BSD 4.4 because the ...
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1answer
71 views

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
78 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
87 views

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
252 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
560 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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56 views

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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3answers
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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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54 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
38 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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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
83 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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2answers
96 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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47 views

Is xrender always faster than the core protocol?

I had read this paper on the design and initial adoption/purpose of the xrender extension: https://www.usenix.org/legacy/publications/library/proceedings/usenix2000/freenix/full_papers/packardrender/...
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1answer
117 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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3answers
98 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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2answers
84 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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How do I display the timestamp of history file from another machine

How do I display the timestamp of history file from another machine. I review logs and sometimes it is helpful to see what commands the users were running. When I view the bash_history file from ...
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3answers
542 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
16 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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1answer
618 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
134 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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0answers
115 views

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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2answers
118 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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1answer
86 views

Using interactive's shell history expansion inside a script

I have the following Bash script set -o histexpand set -o history pwd lc="!!" which, when I run it in an interactive shell, prints /home/user lc="pwd" I'd like to, instead of getting lc=pwd, get ...
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1answer
23 views

Search history and get temporal context with specified window size

I often find myself searching in my history by doing something like history | grep searchterm This returns a list of all the times that I used searchterm in a command. However, I would often like to ...
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1answer
151 views

how was the pipe(2) system call working in “traditional” Unix

This is what perldoc -f syscall says: There's a problem with syscall(SYS_pipe()): it returns the file number of the read end of the pipe it creates, but there is no way ...
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1answer
56 views

Why did Debian use the typewriter apostrophe (') instead of the closed curve quote (’) [closed]

I have been using Debian for quite a few years. Every now and then, when I write or read something I find it confusing what an author meant by it. I had a look at the wikipedia page, as well as this ...
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5answers
7k views

How did Linux/xBSD boot before GRUB?

According to Wikipedia, GRUB was released in 1995. By that point Linux and xBSD existed for several years. I know early Unix versions were tied to hardware in the 70s and 80s, but Linux and xBSD were ...
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0answers
48 views

How did Bourne shell solve missing teletype keys problem?

I've learned recently from DigitalRoss's answer that certain teletypes such as ASR-33 lacked certain keys; for instance |. For that purpose in C there exist trigraph operators that can be substituted ...
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1answer
294 views

Why was POSIX.1e withdrawn?

The proposed POSIX.1e standard defines a few things like ACLs that are widely supported. But the proposal itself was withdrawn. How come? The only reasoning I've found online is this quote from ...
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1answer
70 views

what used to lead /bin being full and creation of /usr/bin?

I am and was reading https://lwn.net/Articles/773342/ where the current move of migrating whole lot of filesystem from /usr/$something to simply /usr . Some of the comments again and again comment on ...
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1answer
73 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 ...
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2answers
547 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. ...
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6answers
9k 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: $ ...
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1answer
535 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"...
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2answers
202 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 ...
112
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6answers
21k 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?
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287 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 ...
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2answers
105 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 ...
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1answer
711 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?
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3answers
5k 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 ...
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4answers
263 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, ...
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1answer
236 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 ...
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1answer
778 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.
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1answer
88 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 ...
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2answers
169 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 ...