It’s been 25 years since I first encountered syslog. I was a newly-minted system administrator with a little cluster of Sun-2s surrounding a Sun-3, trying to debug a UUCP connection over the phone with a friend, who told me “check the log” and talked me through it. There was something that practically hypnotized me about watching the syslog; I see in retrospect that it was the best way to see that my computer was actually doing something. Windowing systems first showed me their value when they allowed me to have a window open in the upper corner of my screen, with ‘tail –f /usr/spool/messages’ running; I could watch the emails work, the USENET news flow, processes start and stop – I could see that my computer was actually doing something! ...

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