Chapter 20. Futures

Dangers and Opportunities

Table of Contents

Essence and Accident in Unix Tradition
Plan 9: The Way the Future Was
Problems in the Design of Unix
A Unix File Is Just a Big Bag of Bytes
Unix Support for GUIs Is Weak
File Deletion Is Forever
Unix Assumes a Static File System
The Design of Job Control Was Badly Botched
The Unix API Doesn't Use Exceptions
ioctl2 and fcntl2 Are an Embarrassment
The Unix Security Model May Be Too Primitive
Unix Has Too Many Different Kinds of Names
File Systems Might Be Considered Harmful
Towards a Global Internet Address Space
Problems in the Environment of Unix
Problems in the Culture of Unix
Reasons to Believe

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

-- Alan Kay Uttered during a 1971 meeting at XEROX PARC

History is not over. Unix will continue to grow and change. The community and the tradition around Unix will continue to evolve. Trying to forecast the future is a chancy business, but we can perhaps anticipate it in two ways: first, by looking at how Unix has coped with design challenges in the past; second, by identifying problems that are looking for solutions and opportunities waiting to be exploited.