Review: Unix Haters Handbook

UHH cover

The Unix Haters Handbook is a rather interesting compilation of messages and issues with the Unix operating system, edited by Simson Garfinkel.

Reading this now, in 2014, is really refreshing. You see a lot of Unix problems explained in details, most of which are just pure hate, but anyway it’s somewhat accurate. The author really gave his best to reach the Guinness Record for most emails quoted in a book. I think he might’ve won!

So, as you guessed, this book isn’t all that relevant in 2014. The Security and rm forever problems may still be considered relevant by some, even today, but as the GUI progressed a lot, the latter isn’t an issue for the casual user.

The most controversial, to me and probably to many more, is the C and C++ hate part. Surely, the languages have their ‘problems’, but let’s call that flavors of trouble. Nowadays there are so many languages to choose from, that you might just quit programming before you even start to list all the problems with every popular language. Is that a bad thing? So does that mean that programming hasn’t evolved at all? No! Programming evolves non-stop and disregarding a technology altogether, just because of some issues isn’t the right thing. Praise the Open-Source Revolution, as some might call it, for giving people the ability to directly participate in languages’ development. Ex. OpenJDK, Python, Ruby.

In the end, this book will surely lead many people away from Unix even nowadays, even though the OS is much different from back then. But for experienced/seasoned/hardened Unix users, this is a lesson for all, not to give up on something. “Whatever the problem is, be part of the solution”!

Still, you can find and read the book here ->