Re: [wmii] Re: quick thanks... for wmii

From: Uriel <>
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2007 18:40:59 +0100

You are completely missing the point.

The beauty of ed is that its design is so minimalistic and its
interface so elegant, that it can adapt to a completely new
environment without the need of any changes.

The beauty of rio terminals is that they transparently provide a
plethora of new functionality for existing applications without the
need to modify them or compromise their clean and simple design.

Both this things are direct consequence of the Unix/Plan 9 philosophy
of "do one thing and do it well" and of an ecosystem of small tools
that play nicely together, where each new tool augments the
functionality of the already existing tools instead of having ot hack
every new piece of functionality into every single tool.

Vi is the total opposites, its interfaces is so ugly and awkward that
the only way it can adapt to a new environment is with some serious
reworking. The only way for it to not depend on a terminal model that
is over thirty years old is for it to internalize the functionality of
the terminal(cursor addressing etc).

Compare that with ed, which originally worked in hardcopy terminals,
but didn't depend on them in any way, so it works on any new
environment without needs to change its interface at all. At the same
time this lack of assumptions about interface is precisely what allows
it to transparently take advantage of the new environment features.

As an illustration notice how ed can transparently take advantage of
tab completion provided by rio terminals, vi on the other hand would
never be able to do so, so it needs to implement its own, making it
even more alien and less integrated into its surrounding environment.

The original designers of Unix and Plan 9 understood that they could
not foresee all the future needs and changes in their environment, so
they designed tools that made as few assumptions as possible.

Of course everything is a compromise, the perfect is the enemy of the
good, and pragmatism is king, but when it was needed to start from
scratch with Plan 9, it is quite impressive that so many tools from
(the original) Unix could be brought over so easily and with so few
changes. And this was not done out of laziness, in most cases the
tools were rewritten from scratch to remove the remains of guck that
had grown on them over the years and that were not needed anymore, but
what is important here is that the original design was so clean and
elegant that it worked perfectly in the new environment. Other good
examples of this are the timeless classics of cat, sed, grep, awk and
so on.


P.S.: As to all the whiners out there, I only have one thing to say: get a life.

On 1/19/07, Bill Puschmann <> wrote:
> Uriel wrote:
> > If your terminal sucks ass don't blame your text editor.
> >
> and then later (defending the self-same argument) says:
> > That ed adapts so cleanly and elegantly to the Plan 9 environment
> >
> Actually - no. ed doesn't adapt, Plan 9 spends its time overcoming the
> deficiencies of its own applications.
> Again, later:
> > because by design [vi/vim] is stuck in a environment of the stone age(or
> some hideous reconstruction of such environment)
> >
> Funny argument coming from the one arguing for cat and ed.
> You claim Ken got by just fine with those and look at the wonderful stuff he
> wrote, so why bother using anything newer (you later address the "bloat"
> issue, but not here). That's like arguing why bother with computers and
> paper? The Persians got along fine for hundreds of years with clay tablets
> and cuneiform!
> Uriel, you usually make a rational argument. Granted, you're so acerbic
> that your words are more likely to upset your audience then sway them. But
> this is really poor for your standards.
> --
> Pancho needs your prayers, it's true. But save a few for Lefty, too.
> -- T. Van Zandt
Received on Fri Jan 19 2007 - 18:41:00 UTC

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