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From: Steven Gordon (sgordon at
Newsgroups: comp.unix.questions
Subject: Unix Hierarchy

Unix Hierarchy of Being

People who come into contact with the Unix system are often told, "If you have trouble, see so-and-so, he's a guru", or "Bob there is a real Unix hacker."

What is a "Unix Wizard"? How does he differ from a "guru"?

To explore these and other questions, here is a draft of the "Unix Hierarchy":


beginner  - insecure with the concept of a terminal
          - has yet to learn the basics of vi
          - has not figured out how to get a directory
          - still has trouble with typing 
            after each line of input

novice    - knows that "ls" will produce a directory
          - uses the editor, but calls it "vye"
          - has heard of "C" but never used it
          - has had a bad experience with rm
          - is wondering how to read mail
          - is wondering why the person next door
            seems to like Unix so very much

user      - uses vi and nroff, but inexpertly
          - has heard of regular expressions but
            never seen one
          - has figured out that "-" precedes options
          - has attempted to write a C program, but
            decided to stick with Pascal
          - is wondering how to move a directory
          - thinks that dbx is a brand of stereo component
          - knows how to read mail and is wondering how
            to read the news

user	  - uses nroff with no trouble, and is beginning
            to learn tbl and eqn
          - uses grep to search for fixed strings
          - has figured out that mv(1) will move directories
          - has learned that "learn" doesn't help
          - somebody has shown him how to write
            C programs
          - once used sed but checked the file afterwards
          - watched somebody use dbx once
          - tried "make" but used spaces instead of tabs

expert    - uses sed when necessary
          - uses macros in vi, uses ex when necessary
          - posts news at every possible opportunity
          - is still wondering how to successfully reply
            to mail
          - writes csh scripts occasionally
          - writes C programs using vi and compiles
            with make
          - has figured out what && and | | are for
          - uses fgrep because somebody said it
            was faster

hacker    - uses sed and awk with comfort
          - uses undocumented features of vi
          - writes C code with "cat >" and compiles with
          - uses adb because he doesn't trust source
          - figured out how environment variables are
          - writes his own nroff macros to supplement the
            standard ones
          - writes Bourne shell scripts
          - installs bug fixes from the net
          - uses egrep because he timed it

guru      - uses m4 and lex with comfort
          - writes assembler code with "cat >"
          - uses adb on the kernel while the system
            is loaded
          - customizes Unix utilities by patching the source
          - reads device driver source with breakfast
          - uses "ed" because "ex" is a Berkeleyism
          - can answer any Unix question after a little
          - uses make for anything that requires two or
            more commands
          - has learned how to breach security but no longer
            needs to try
          - is putting James Woods/Henry Spencer egrep
            into his next Unix release

wizard    - writes device drivers with "cat >"
          - fixes bugs by patching the binaries
          - posts his changes to Unix utilities to the net,
            and they work
          - can tell what question you are about to ask,
            and answers it
          - writes his own troff macro packages
          - is on a first-name basis with Dennis, Bill,
            and Ken

Note: I'm not the author, these tidbits were all forwarded to me via email. Where I know the author, it is given.
The From: header may be the author, or it may just be the person who forwarded it to me.
Feel free to contact me to claim authorship.

Copyright (C) 2009 Brandon Long. All Rights Reserved. / Terms of Service

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