Levels of Unix guru

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Philip

Incorrigible Inquisitor
Sep 28, 2020
19
3
UK
The programmer's keyboard (0, 1 and Enter) reminded me of the levels of sophistication of Unix users that did the rounds back in the 80's or 90's. I'm sure a few oldies round here will remember it, perhaps more than I do. I just remember a couple of the top levels were something like:
  • Writes Unix device drivers with cat >
  • Refers to Ken, Dennis and Brian by their first names
I forget what the lowest level was.
 
The programmer's keyboard (0, 1 and Enter) reminded me of the levels of sophistication of Unix users that did the rounds back in the 80's or 90's. I'm sure a few oldies round here will remember it, perhaps more than I do. I just remember a couple of the top levels were something like:
  • Writes Unix device drivers with cat >
  • Refers to Ken, Dennis and Brian by their first names
I forget what the lowest level was.
I will never admit to having written assembly code in the debugger and squirting it out to a file to execute.

Manual? ... What Manual ?!? This Is Unix, My Son, You Just GOTTA Know!!!
 
In one of my (um undisclosed) roles I had to write a patch for a live system in hex... while the "customer" watched. You never want this level of pressure if you can manage to avoid it.
 
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Just before Y2K we had a system which needed updating for Y2K, but did not have the spare resources in house to do it. I got a contractor in. When I interviewed him, and said the system was CICS Assembler, his reply was " Yes I do high level languages like Assembler, my last job was programming high speed printers in machine code".
 
I do high level languages like Assembler,
Perspective is everything I guess. Developers who've never worked on embedded code (or possibly on GPU code where you may not be able to see a debugger if you have one) may think debugging is no big deal... but when the system cannot stop under ANY circumstances and all you have is a tiny log file to write key data to, your perspective changes in a hurry. Luckily I've only ever coded in Assembly for pay a couple of times, and did binary patching a few times--it's not that it's necessarily hard, just kinda slow compared to C or a higher level language.
 
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Not done patching at the binary level, but I can remember having to recover a corrupted directory on a word processing system back in the early eighties. It was coded in Octal and somehow all the filenames had got corrupted into characters that you could not input on the keyboard. The files were highly confidential, and the (5.25" floppy) disks could not leave the office.
 
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In one of my (um undisclosed) roles I had to write a patch for a live system in hex... while the "customer" watched. You never want this level of pressure if you can manage to avoid it.
It's worse when your customer (or in my case my boss) tries to help. He was in the root directory of my VMS system and deleted everything. I got back at him though. I presented it as a case study at a DECUS (DEC Users Society) annual conference in front of 3,000+ people. I was called "Why you should never let a manager into the computer room."
 
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One of my first ever managers was like "Bad Luck Shleprock"... you could sit him in front of your system that you spent months perfecting and he would press one or two keys and immediately it would all fall apart. I had a later manager who would try to micro-manage you standing in your doorway demanding action. My usual approach with her was to suggest that we needed a meeting to discuss the next action, and could she pull that together. Although her meetings were always a waste of time, it kept her busy long enough for me to understand the problem and come up with a plan to present in the meeting.
 
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root directory of my VMS system
I really enjoyed the Vax. I got asked to do a system upgrade on a weekend, in the time frame of the first Beverley Hills Cop movie. I listened to the soundtrack on my cassette Walkman while I waited to load each reel to reel tape. The command interpreter in VMS was very nice, and the embedded networking was very slick. Having the system automatically make backups of your files with the semicolon naming was also quite handy.
 
@PHolder Axel F was one of the most remixed and redone-on-computer songs around. My first university email account was obtained on and accessed via a vax/vms terminal.

On my bookshelf is a paperback copy of the very expensive (at the time), 832-page book [RELEASE 4.2] UNIX SYSTEM V: A PRACTICAL GUIDE (third edition) by MARK G SOBELL. ©1995.

Page 7, I just noticed, contains a grayscale image of a HDD without its case, described with the text New 3.5-inch hard disk drives store 2 Gigabytes of information in a 1" high design, and 4GB in a 1.6" design. The SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface) drives are targeted at high-end PCs, workstations, servers, and disk arrays. (Courtesy of Conner Peripherals, Inc.) The displayed disk has 6 platters.
 
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Another VMS fan here (and ex-DEC employee late 80's to early 90's). Linux is my second love :)
What part of DEC did you work in? I was a Western Region Database Consultant and part of the Transaction Processing team. I taught DEC database classes, did pre-sales and post-sales consulting. I also went to, taught at and presented at several annual DECUS meetings. I have a Datatrieve Wombat magnet on my refrigerator.
 
Not a DEC employee, but I learned my computing on a PDP11/44 running RSX11-M+with RL02 disks ( all 10MB of them). Then I was involved with some microVaxes running Allin1. Very useful back door for us "users", you could get to a DCL prompt through the DBMS application.
 
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