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Less is More: The Orthodox File Manager (OFM) Paradigm

by Dr Nikolai Bezroukov

Content : Foreword : Ch01 : Ch02 : Ch03 : Ch04 : Ch05 : Ch06 : Ch07 : OFM1999 : OFM2004 : OFM2012

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Ch 4: History of UNIX Orthodox File managers



Although originated in DOS, in my view OFMs can and should be considered to be a new generation of Unix shells command line interface, the interface that greatly simplifies working with the command line shell environment. I would even say that OFMs represent a breakthrough in the creation of the Unix shell command line interface, the first important innovation in this area since the creation of ksh93. Thus, for any particular user, the importance of Unix OFMs is closely related to the importance for him of the shell environment. That means that the person needs to understand Unix philosophy to fully benefit from the OFMs capabilities. As David Korn aptly said (bold italic is mine - BNN):

There are many people who use UNIX or Linux who IMHO do not understand UNIX. UNIX is not just an operating system, it is a way of doing things, and the shell plays a key role by providing the glue that makes it work. The UNIX methodology relies heavily on reuse of a set of tools rather than on building monolithic applications. Even Perl programmers often miss the point, writing the heart and soul of the application as Perl script without making use of the UNIX toolkit.

There are two major usages of OFMs in Unix environment

That means that you might actually benefit from using two implementations of OFM.

Paradoxically for OFMs Unix proved to be as good or even better environment then Windows. OFMs on UNIX can utilize most of the advantages of the base operating system. Among them:

I believe the latter made possible to implement "external panelize" command in MC, the command that I suspect have rather slim chances to appear in Dos/Windows implementations. Of course UNIX has several disadvantages. Among them:

I would like to say it again: any hard core Unix administrator will benefit greatly learning deco, Midnight Commander or any other OFM. When I saw that some poor guy all day is typing endless sequences of cd..., ls | more I looks like many Unix users and administrators suffers from the syndrome that I would like to call "an addiction to the pure command line" -- unnecessary and inefficient navigating the directory tree and performing file operations using plain vanilla cd, ls, cp troika. Sometimes that creates health problems like repetitive stress syndrome. OFM can reduce this typing orgy at least by half and at the same time provides much better view of the file system then any sequence of cd and ls commands...

Moreover the vast majority of users and even system administrators are, by definition, not experts. Few people are able to master the complexity of the current Unix distributions like Solaris 9 or Red Hat 9 (BTW a Red Hat 9 installation of medium complexity with webserver contains more then 100K files). All people want is "something that works". Science fiction editor John W. Campbell used to say that what most people want is magic, which he defined as "product without process." Campbell was right. Most people aren't interested in mucking with the process, all they want are the results. And the trade-off for becoming a major force in software is that you must give those people what they want. For that reason Unix-based OFMs are very important in simplifying life of the "mixed environment", when user are stuck with using two OSes on daily basis with Windows as a corporate desktop and Unix as a server or application running host.  For many power Windows users OFM represents probably 50% of the value of a Windows command line environment (applications are probably another 50%) and with OFM available in all major Unix distributions it created the possibility to use the same tool in both environments. That's a huge plus.

Paradoxically the ability to work with mouse is more important for Unix console OFMs then for Windows console OFMs as multitude of terminal types in Unix create a mess where not all keyboard combinations can be used and keyboard combinations that can be used in one terminal can't be used in another.

Paradoxically the ability to work with mouse is more important for Unix console OFMs then for Windows console OFMs

In other words without deep understanding of terminfo yours are stuck. Fortunatly such terminal emulators as Teraterm work with mouse OK.


Please note that some significant X-based Unix OFMs written in scripting languages are covered in Ch. 6

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Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy


War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes


Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law


Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater�s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D

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Last modified: March 12, 2019