Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mid-Week Neat Trick - With Proper Attribution

Hey there,

I actually have some stuff to write today, and was going to write it, but while I was trying to figure out an issue at work (that, strangely enough, had absolutely nothing to do with the topic of this post ;), I happened upon a great article, regarding novel uses of dd and text-based web tools like curl and wget, over at's Linux article section

The trick it describes is one you may have heard of before, or put into practice, but I liked the author's enthusiasm for the subject matter (which comes through in the writing - along with many links to other interesting pieces) and thought I'd table my own meandering thoughts for a day and turn you on to someone else's ;)

I've included the introduction below. Follow this link, or the link at the end of this section, to continue reading. In fact, just click the link. All the really cool stuff follows the opener, although it sets up the mood quite nicely :)

Enjoy and cheers,

Surprisingly, I got quite a bit of response from my last piece, "Stupid Linux Tricks." That article was something I'd dashed off at the last second because I hadn't thought of anything provocative or rant-worthy to write about. Still, it seems to have hit an interesting chord with quite a few people. The idea that the best way to convert a person is to demonstrate some of the incredibly cool, useful, or just plain well-designed stuff about Linux. So, since I'm out of ideas this week too, I'll do something similar -- but instead concentrating on some of the smaller tools and what they can do.
Let's face it: Unix isn't a single, large product -- it's a fantastically modular system. It's so modular, in fact, that every component can in theory be replaced! So much so, that there is no single part of the Unix architecture that can, strictly speaking, be called Unix. The Linux kernel is just an implementation of an API, and an abstraction layer for hardware. That's not Unix. Neither are any of the potentially thousands of programs that make up Solaris, Linux, BSD, or any of the other ones. Any individual component is trivial, and is a part of a larger, cohesive whole.

Within that collective framework of tools, the user learns how to take advantage of them, one by one, learning how they interact and lock together, and their purposes and use. Often, a tool is used for purposes very unlike its intent. Almost frighteningly so, in fact. Very impressively so. Showing someone what these tools, few of which work as well as eye candy, can do to make your life easier is how you "clinch the sale" so to speak. So what if Linux can do all these cool things to impress people? Now you have to show them what it can do to make their lives easier in some small way... CONTINUE READING...

, Mike

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