1. Philosophy: Philosophy Matters

Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly.

Usenet signature, November 1987 —Henry Spencer

1.1 Culture? What Culture?

This is a book about Unix programming, but in it we’re going to toss around the words ’culture’, ’art’, and ’philosophy’ a lot. If you are not a programmer, or you are a programmer who has had little contact with the Unix world, this may seem strange. But Unix has a culture; it has a distinctive art of programming; and it carries with it a powerful design philosophy. Understanding these traditions will help you build better software, even if you’re developing for a non-Unix platform.

Every branch of engineering and design has technical cultures. In most kinds of ...

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