Nov 22, 2017 8:22 AM PT

Why Linux can make you feel thankful or merely stuffed

It's turkey time — cause for reflection on how Unix and Linux have improved our lives.

Will Kimeria (CC BY 2.0)

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. While I’m looking forward to turkey, stuffing and pie, I’m also thankful to have been able to spend most of my career administering Unix and Linux systems. So, today’s post is going to focus on some of the things I’ve felt most thankful for and most gratified by over the span of more than 30 years with Unix and Linux.

There are many reasons why I came to appreciate Unix and then Linux and why they became such an important part of my life. These operating systems provided a focus and a career specialty that I've greatly enjoyed. I appreciate Linus Torvalds and the many thousands of developers who have contributed their time and energy into building a powerful, efficient and enjoyable operating system. I appreciate the many tools and commands that make them so easy to use and get my work done. And I appreciate the chances that I've had to share what I've learned with so many others. It's been fun, and it's been very rewarding.

I am thankful for, excited about, and stuffed by all that is Linux today.

Thankful for ...

Most of all, I am thankful for the command line. Having a highly functional command line interface that allows me to get nearly anything done that I need to do on the systems I've managed over the years has been enjoyable and rewarding. I will never forget my very first days on the command line of my first Unix system. Discovering pipes and commands like grep, sed and awk was both wonderful and eye opening after the awkward systems I'd used previously.

I love having the ability to discover efficient and clever ways to get work done and then encapsulate what I've learned into scripts. I've spent so many years with sh, csh, bash and perl (along with some other tools) and have always enjoyed being able to answer a challenge with a clever scripted response.

I am grateful for tools like cron that make it easy for me to get work done even while I'm sleeping.

And I am grateful and continuously amazed that it's free — and for the shared passion that makes it so.

Excited about ...

I am excited that new applications are being added all the time and that tools for heightened security are always being developed and improved.

I'm excited that even the most sophisticated tools can be managed with configuration files that I can easily modify and verify.

I'm excited by the fact that new kernels are constantly being developed.

I'm excited that even large networks of Linux systems can be efficiently and securely managed from a single master server.

I'm excited that Linux systems are largely crash-resistant and that Linux desktops are so easy to use.

Stuffed by ...

I am deeply satisfied that upgrades are so easy (even automatic) that I don't have to struggle with patches, that Linux's focus on security and scalability is so palpable. So many of the superior security tools are built on Linux, and Linux runs on everything from the tiniest devices to the most powerful supercomputers in the world.

I am satisfied that Linux is so well documented. Those man pages rock with details and accuracy.

And I am glad that of all the areas I might have specialized in during my IT career, I fell in love so early with an OS that made me feel I could accomplish so much simply by typing commands on a command line.