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Re: ifconfig v2

On Tue, Jun 11, 2013 at 11:06:16PM -0400, Mouse wrote:
> There's one thing I notice about these purported improvements: they are
> improvements aimed strictly at human interaction.  If these are
> adopted, I expect a lot of scripts to explode very badly - I know some
> of mine would.

I, too, have scripts that would explode.  This is a sticking point
for changing a lot of things in a UNIX: the human interface and the
software interface are oftentimes the same, so improving one interface
may make the other worse.  I'm interested in finding ways to separate
the interfaces.

(Perhaps one way of describing the problem is to say that there is no
separation of content and presentation in UNIX.)

The usual way to separate the interfaces is to check
isatty(STDOUT_FILENO) and to assume that if it's true, then there is a
person reading the output, and if it's false, then there is a program
reading the output.  That doesn't get us very far.  Even if a second
program reads the output, a person may ultimately read the output of
the second program.  The second program may be a pager like 'more', for
example, or it may be an awk script that filters the output before the
user reads it.

> I would also expect a lot of sysadmins getting surprised and annoyed
> upon discovering that their reflexes are broken by an "upgrade" -
> basically, the human-layer version of the same thing - but that's a
> risk for almost any change.

I feel strongly that is important to avoid breaking users' reflexes,
however, I think that ifconfig can be changed in ways that make it more
useful while supporting either the old reflexes or the formation of
new ones.  If the updated display is sufficient most of the time, then
existing reflexes won't have to change.


David Young    Urbana, IL    (217) 721-9981

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