The Unix Philosophy

I’m not one for rules, but I found this gem the other day that I found to be quite a good read.

In Basics of the Unix Philosophy – part of Chapter 1 of The Art of Unix Programming, Eric Raymond outlines 17 key “rules” that form the foundation of Unix programming.

The nice thing is – the rules also apply to other programming as well. Here are a couple to whet your appetite:

  • Rule of Modularity: Write simple parts connected by clean interfaces.
  • Rule of Least Surprise: In interface design, always do the least surprising thing.
  • Rule of Repair: When you must fail, fail noisily and as soon as possible.
  • Rule of Optimization: Prototype before polishing. Get it working before you optimize it.

The full list is the kind of thing you need to print out and read every few months just to remind yourself how you’re actually supposed to be doing things.

(P.S. “The Art of Unix Programming” is available freely online, along with many other of pieces of Eric Raymond’s writing)

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