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UNIX questions should be considered Semi-On Topic on clc

 
 
Wolfgang Draxinger
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      01-30-2009
I'm currently browsing though my copy of K&R "The C Programming
Language", preparing a undergraduate course "Introduction to
numerical C programming for physicists".

Well, chapter 8 (p. 169 ff.) is captioned "The UNIX System
Interface".

Now I ask you: How which newsgroup will it be, that (new) readers
are asking UNIX questions in? Hint: They're reading a book about
the C programming language.

I think this NG should adhere to the fact, that in the standard
textbook about the language it covers (C), the UNIX API is
outlined. And that will readers will have questions on that,
which they reasonably - it's covered in a textbook on C - will
ask here.

Wolfgang

 
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vippstar@gmail.com
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      01-30-2009
On Jan 30, 11:57*am, Wolfgang Draxinger <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:
> I'm currently browsing though my copy of K&R "The C Programming
> Language", preparing a undergraduate course "Introduction to
> numerical C programming for physicists".
>
> Well, chapter 8 (p. 169 ff.) is captioned "The UNIX System
> Interface".
>
> Now I ask you: How which newsgroup will it be, that (new) readers
> are asking UNIX questions in? Hint: They're reading a book about
> the C programming language.
>
> I think this NG should adhere to the fact, that in the standard
> textbook about the language it covers (C), the UNIX API is
> outlined. And that will readers will have questions on that,
> which they reasonably - it's covered in a textbook on C - will
> ask here.


Well I was reading deitel & deitel 5th ed, and it also mentions C++
and the Allegro library. Therefore, those should be considered semi-on
topic as well.
 
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Antoninus Twink
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      01-30-2009
On 30 Jan 2009 at 11:29, http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed) wrote:
> Well I was reading deitel & deitel 5th ed, and it also mentions C++
> and the Allegro library. Therefore, those should be considered semi-on
> topic as well.


Excellent point - I completely agree.

 
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Wolfgang Draxinger
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      01-30-2009
(E-Mail Removed) wrote:

> Well I was reading deitel & deitel 5th ed, and it also mentions C++
> and the Allegro library. Therefore, those should be considered semi-on
> topic as well.


Unlike the Deitel & Deitel books, which are part of a series to all kinds of
programming languages, "The C Programming Language" has been written by the
creators of the C language and is thus the canonical textbook on that
topic.

This is similair to say, the "Official OpenGL Programming Guide" (aka the
Red Book), there are plenty of other books on the OpenGL topic, covering
things that are better discussed in comp.graphics.algorithms. But as long
as such topics are also discussed in the Red Book they are well accepted
for discussion in comp.graphics.opengl, and this is, because people have
seen those examples in the canonical textbook and naturally will go to ask
the people most closely associated with that certain book.

And in the case of "The C Programming Language", which is the canonical text
on C, this would be clc. I'm not saying, UNIX topics should be broadly
discussed here, but basic questions and their explanation should be allowed
here. Of course advanced stuff like file descriptor redirection, socket
programming and such belog into the proper NGs. But questions on open,
close, read, write (and maybe fork and exec) should be well accepted here.

Those are topics touched in the canonical C textbook and thus such questions
on that, if asked here, should not be bluntly redirected into other NGs.

Wolfgang

 
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Ben Bacarisse
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      01-30-2009
Wolfgang Draxinger <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

> (E-Mail Removed) wrote:
>
>> Well I was reading deitel & deitel 5th ed, and it also mentions C++
>> and the Allegro library. Therefore, those should be considered semi-on
>> topic as well.

>
> Unlike the Deitel & Deitel books, which are part of a series to all kinds of
> programming languages, "The C Programming Language" has been written by the
> creators of the C language and is thus the canonical textbook on that
> topic.


That's a red herring. My K&R discusses 9 system calls, and the
interface it describes is obsolete. If you want to add those 9 calls
to what is topical and limit the discussion to systems where a
directory is read as plain file of struct direct { ino_t i; char
name[14]; } entries then I doubt there will be any takers.

fork (which stared this thread, I think) is not included.

The advice -- to ask elsewhere -- is simply a matter of practicality.
A "unixy" question here will often be badly answered and these answers
will not be corrected.

--
Ben.
 
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Wolfgang Draxinger
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      01-30-2009
Ben Bacarisse wrote:

> That's a red herring. My K&R discusses 9 system calls, and the
> interface it describes is obsolete. If you want to add those 9 calls
> to what is topical and limit the discussion to systems where a
> directory is read as plain file of struct direct { ino_t i; char
> name[14]; } entries then I doubt there will be any takers.


It's not about focusing on that set of syscalls. It's about the fact, that
the UNIX API is touched in K&R. Every now and then somebody asks about
simple syscalls and gets bluntly slapped in the face here, merely
suggesting "ask in comp.unix.programmer". A little bit of explanation would
be nice.

There's that guy (I won't give names) who was in the development team of a
popular Linux Distribution and coded a leaner alternative to the original
package manager. This guy gave answers in that cold, formal tune only, too.
A lot of people were put off by that. They asked "how do I..?" and all they
in response litteraly was barely more than "RTFM". This behaviour got that
guy kicked from the development team (i.e. his status was revoked).

Now you can't kick people from clc, but it has a major influence on the
weighting whom newbies tend attention. And there are some guys on clc (I
won't name them, too), which give explanation, but their knowledge of C is
inferior, or they are too pragmatic in addressing certain problems.

True, clc is not the place to ask advanced questions on UNIX, but people new
to the trade should be well treated. Especially as the UNIX API has been
designed with mostly C in mind as such is quite close to it. Thus Semi-OnT:
Give a compact answer if still somewhat related to C and F'up2 c.u.p for
details.

Wolfgang

 
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Ben Bacarisse
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      01-30-2009
Wolfgang Draxinger <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

> True, clc is not the place to ask advanced questions on UNIX, but people new
> to the trade should be well treated. Especially as the UNIX API has been
> designed with mostly C in mind as such is quite close to it. Thus Semi-OnT:
> Give a compact answer if still somewhat related to C and F'up2 c.u.p for
> details.


We would be in complete agreement if (a) Followup-to worked (too many
people ignore it when replying and the effect is often to promote a
huge cross-posted thread) and (b) there were not people here who post
misleading information on system specific topics. I think they do it
deliberately. They, of course, don't set Followup-to.

I might try your suggestion a couple of times, but a simple, polite,
redirection still look to me to be the best answer.

--
Ben.
 
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Rui Maciel
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      01-30-2009
Wolfgang Draxinger wrote:

> Now I ask you: How which newsgroup will it be, that (new) readers
> are asking UNIX questions in? Hint: They're reading a book about
> the C programming language.


I do believe you already answered your question. If it's an UNIX question then why
wouldn't it be posted to a UNIX newsgroup?


Rui Maciel

 
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jameskuyper
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      01-30-2009
Wolfgang Draxinger wrote:
> Ben Bacarisse wrote:
>
> > That's a red herring. My K&R discusses 9 system calls, and the
> > interface it describes is obsolete. If you want to add those 9 calls
> > to what is topical and limit the discussion to systems where a
> > directory is read as plain file of struct direct { ino_t i; char
> > name[14]; } entries then I doubt there will be any takers.

>
> It's not about focusing on that set of syscalls. It's about the fact, that
> the UNIX API is touched in K&R. Every now and then somebody asks about
> simple syscalls and gets bluntly slapped in the face here, merely
> suggesting "ask in comp.unix.programmer".


I would say that the fundamental problem is misinterpretation of that
suggestion as a rude "slap in the face", rather than as what it is, a
perfectly polite re-direction. Add the word "please", as sometimes
happens, and it's even a friendly redirection.

> A little bit of explanation would be nice.


Oddly enough, a little bit of explanation is, in fact, usually
provided. Providing a lot of explanation is not a good idea, because
it might spark further off-topic discussions in this newsgroup. The re-
directed forum is, in any case, a better place to get a more complete
explanation.
 
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dj3vande@csclub.uwaterloo.ca.invalid
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      01-30-2009
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>,
Wolfgang Draxinger <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

[K&R2 chapter 8 refers to the Unix system call API]
>I think this NG should adhere to the fact, that in the standard
>textbook about the language it covers (C), the UNIX API is
>outlined. And that will readers will have questions on that,
>which they reasonably - it's covered in a textbook on C - will
>ask here.


If they were reading carefully enough to get anything useful out of it,
they would have noticed that it says (third paragraph of the chapter):
Chapter 7 was concerned with an input/output interface that is
uniform across operating systems. On any particular system the
routines of the standard library have to be written in terms of the
facilities provided by the host system. In the next few sections we
will describe the UNIX system calls for input and output, and show
how parts of the standard library can be implemented with them.
i.e. K himself points out that he's going beyond C in chapter 8.

So how is it inappropriate to point out that the unix system interface
is not part of C and therefore outside the scope of CLC, and redirect
posters to comp.unix.programmer?


dave

--
Dave Vandervies dj3vande at eskimo dot com
Of course there are extra points if you do this in syntax-rules, but
the call-with-current-yak function is *definitely* not allowed.
--David Rush in comp.lang.scheme
 
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