Monday, September 8, 2008

SPR720 Command Lab

Linux commands

and comfort zones: some thoughts and a comment on the lab
dos 6 (©) was pretty cool: I got used to it and I liked the simplicity (if only I could have connected the network with those borrowed token ring cards). Still, it was a great environment to try out that Bor£and compiler though.

I've always found the Unix directory
structure confusing. Even after
getting fairly comfortable as a user
the file system remained a mystery.
Thankfully, the whole user experience
is getting easier as Linux
distributions evolve.

In Lab #0 we took a look at what is
in all those 'bin' directories.

What is with all these bin directories
anyway? That is one of the things that
always made me uncomfortable:
especially when I was trying to find
something. To me, the absolute worst
feeling was downloading installing something and having no idea where all that stuff has gone or even what exactly I had installed (doc filesuseful tools...).
Hey, usually everything worked but I was clueless and usually had to 'get back to work' so no time to spend exploring.

Coming from a dos background, I wanted and expected to know where things were. Put ActivePerl on a Windows machine and you get one directory, say C:\>perl and all that neat stuff is in there; dead easy to browse the docs, look at the samples - I guess it didn't make Perl any easier though.

About the Lab: we took a look at what was in those bin directories, each file (maybe not the thousands in /usr/bin) or at leas some of them; we found 25 files we didn't know and did a little research on them - man pages, info, --help etc. Then think about what was going on withe the different dierectories. There is obviously rhyme and reason for the structure, the multiple bin directories.

First of all, the Lab was deceptively simple. It took a lot longer than I tought it would. I spent time looking at all those /usr/bin/mysql* files that I knew (from my C:\>mysql directory) were around - I will have to go back there and do that some more. I discovered lots of little thing that were interesting. I'd started out with the intention of looking at all the two letter commands as they tend to be the heart and soul of Unix systems, powerful little things that the gurus pipe things to and all that. I discovered a whole lot of z* commands that deal with compressed files - those are not in my comfort zone yet.

Anyway, I made some minor conclusions (temporary and ready to be rewritten) about the reason for the multiple bin directories. Part of it has to be historic - that is the way we've always done it - but there is definitely a seperation of system stuff from user stuff (who is the system and who is the user...).

Out of time...

No comments: