Best UNIX Quotations

Contrary to popular belief, Unix is user friendly. It just happens to be very selective about who it decides to make friends with.   -- unknown

It is the way I think. I am a very bottom-up thinker. If you give me the right kind of Tinker Toys, I can imagine the building. I can sit there and see primitives and recognize their power to build structures a half mile high, if only I had just one more to make it functionally complete. I can see those kinds of things.   -- Ken Thompson, creator of UNIX, 1999 (from Computer Magazine interview)

If you want to travel around the world and be invited to speak at a lot of different places, just write a Unix operating system.   -- Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux

Some consider UNIX to be the second most important invention to come out of AT&T Bell Labs after the transistor.   -- Dennis Ritchie, creator of the C programming language and co-creator of UNIX

Technically, Unix is a simple, coherent system which pushes a few good ideas to the limit.   -- Sunil Das, computer scientist

The one thing I stole was the hierarchical file system because it was a really good idea . . .   -- Ken Thompson, 1999 (from Computer Magazine interview)

There are two major products that came out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence.   -- Jeremy S. Anderson, UNIX systems administrator, and promulgated by Steven Aukstakalnis (Although it is sometimes pointed out that both parts of this quotation are incorrect, that is irrelevant because, according to its author, it was made purely in jest.)

The UNIX legacy is a set of simple and timeless tools that can take years to master but which can perform seeming miracles in seconds in the hands of experienced users.   -- a Bellevue Linux Users Group member, 2005

The use of the Unix philosophy just for UNIX was a great waste. Fortunately, Linux came along.   -- a Bellevue Linux Users Group member, 2005

Those who do not understand UNIX are condemned to reinvent it, poorly.   -- Henry Spencer, programmer

UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity.   -- Dennis Ritchie

Unix is not so much an operating system as an oral history.   -- Neal Stephenson, science fiction writer

UNIX is not so much an operating system as a way of thinking.   -- unknown

UNIX was developed at the expense of telephone users and taxpayers in the U.S., and thus it belongs to all of the people. All attempts to hijack it for private gain at the expense of the general public will ultimately fail.   -- a Bellevue Linux Users Group member, 2005 (referring to UNIX's development by Bell Labs through artificially high telephone rates and at the taxpayer-supported University of California at Berkeley and to the recent attempt by SCO Group Inc. to claim ownership)

UNIX was not designed to stop its users from doing stupid things, as that would also stop them from doing clever things.   -- unknown (generally attributed to a Doug Gwyn, but no information found about him)

UNIX was so successful, in fact, that it was difficult for any subsequently developed operating systems to not be influenced by it.   -- a Bellevue Linux Users Group member, 2006

The terms UNIX and Unix in the above quotations are used according to the original usage. Quotations about Linux are available separately on the page Best Linux Quotations.

Created March 28, 2004. Last updated July 8, 2006.
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