Strong opinions, weakly held

Rob Pike on dot files

How many bugs and wasted CPU cycles and instances of human frustration (not to mention bad design) have resulted from that one small shortcut about  40 years ago?

Keep that in mind next time you want to cut a corner in your code.

Unix pioneer Rob Pike explains how dot files originated from a mistake. Most interesting thing I read today.


  1. I think this is counterfactual. It might feel like a mistake to Pike, but I think you’d have to carefully evaluate calling any Unix design decision a mistake given that it is one of the few successful things we’ve accomplished as an industry.

    In slop comes affordances, invitation to experiment, and room for folks with no higher aspiration then scratching their own itch to participate.

  2. Good point. I think that if nothing else, dot files would better be described as an unintended side effect rather than mistake. A lot of what I find entertaining is that the wasted CPU cycles clearly get to Rob Pike.

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