->Title Page
->Vi editor
->Mirror sites
->Further reading

[ Up ]


What is this thing?

In Samoa, when elementary schools were first established, the natives developed an absolute craze for arithmetical calculations. They laid aside their weapons and were to be seen going about armed with slate and pencil, setting sums and problems to one another and to European visitors. The Honourable Frederick Walpole declares that his visit to the beautiful island was positively embittered by ceaseless multiplication and division.-R. Briffault
This document was not written to cause you to relive the experience of native Samoans or cause those around you to better empathize with Frederick Walpole. Rather, it was prepared to help acquaint new users with Unix and vi and provide a quick reference for me in case I forgot a how to do something. Although much of the material contained within this document has the same tantalizing appeal of arithmetic, please try to contain your excitement. This document is a chronicle of my adventures in the proverbial wonderland of Unix. Admittedly, minimal effort was made to accommodate a more diverse audience. It focuses on items which were of particular interest to me.

As our world draws closer and closer to its date with total randomness1 things will change. It should not shock you to find that some of the things contained in this paper are no longer true. Try to deal with it.

Why read this thing?

I'm sure it is clear to the lazy person why a thorough knowledge of this document is ideal, but I will explain the rationale for you hard workers. In my "many" years of experience it has become increasingly clear to me that the more one knows, the easier a given task becomes. A lazy person would benefit from reading this because they could perform a given task with less effort. A hard working person would benefit from reading this because they could perform a greater number of tasks in a given time period. Let's look at a trivial example: suppose you wanted to move a file from one directory to another. Although this could be done by copying it to the new directory and then deleting it from the old, knowledge of the Unix command mv would allow you to accomplish the same task with only one command. Cutting your workload in half like this gives you the freedom to do half as much work as the idiot next to you2 or get twice as much done. Please don't short change yourself by just skimming this document. Make a decision now to learn why every word in this document is here and what it means. Know it so well that you don't even need to think about it. I cannot begin to describe the pleasure you will derive from this accomplishment. Consider the words of Alfred North Whitehead:3

It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle-they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.

Please notify owners of webpages with outdated links to these pages

1 See the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
2 Assuming you are not sitting by yourself.
3 For those of you who are easily persuaded, please don't take this paragraph too seriously.

Find this site useful? Want to give something back?

© 1993-2001 Christopher C. Taylor