RFC: alias tar="tar --backup" ?

Matthew Paul Thomas mpt at canonical.com
Fri May 18 13:58:39 UTC 2007

On May 18, 2007, at 10:51 AM, Onno Benschop wrote:
> ...
> What I see here is a classic example of an expectation mismatch. The
> new user expects the computer to almost "honour" their data,

That's a variation on Raskin's First Law of Interaction: "A computer 
shall not harm your work or, through inaction, allow your work to come 
to harm." Computers typically bludgeon this expectation out of users. 
Someday, perhaps, they'll be nicer.

> the more experienced user expects the computer to do what it is told.
> There is something to be said for your proposal, if we keep in mind
> the "do no harm" approach, but then you would need to do that for all
> such commands. That is a long and slippery slope to head down.

Yes, that's probably unworkable without a long-term effort between 
Linux and Unix distributors, on something they probably wouldn't 
consider important.

> ...
> Perhaps when a user launches a terminal for the first time, a dialog
> pops up that says something along the lines of:
>     Commands entered within a Terminal screen may not work as you
>     expect. Sometimes a command will overwrite files without warning
>     you. If you are unsure, use the 'man' command to find out.
> ...

Even better would be to print a similar message (it probably needs 
rewording a bit) in the terminal itself when it is launched. Then it 
would be more likely to be read, and it wouldn't require an extra click 
to dismiss.

Matthew Paul Thomas
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