The Unix-Haters Handbook

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The UNIX-HATERS Handbook
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Publication date

The Unix-Haters Handbook is a semi-humorous edited compilation of messages to the Unix-Haters mailing list. The book was edited by Simson Garfinkel, Daniel Weise and Steven Strassmann and published in 1994.

The book was made available to download for free in electronic format in 2003.[1]


The book concerns the frustrations of users of the Unix operating system. Many users had come from systems that they felt were far more sophisticated in computer science terms, and they were tremendously frustrated by the "worse is better" design philosophy that they felt Unix and much of its software encapsulated.

The book is now rather dated: most of the material is from around 1990, and many of the problems cited no longer exist. For example, it complains about the lack of a journaling file system and states that a graphical user interface would be an oxymoron for Unix, but these features are now standard. A large proportion of the complaints are about anomalies in the command line interface. It predates the rise of Linux and thus concerns the several commercial versions of Unix then available (the inconsistencies between them being another major complaint in the book)—most of which have since ceased to exist.

This book was printed as a trade paperback. Its front cover was designed to be similar to The Scream. An air sickness bag, printed with the phrase "UNIX barf bag", was inserted into the inside back cover of every copy, by the publisher.

The front-matter page's dedication says: "To Ken and Dennis, without whom this book would not have been possible." These are references to Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, the creators of Unix. Ritchie provided an "anti-foreword" which the authors placed near the beginning of the book.


  1. ^ ""The Unix-Haters Handbook" WWW Page". 2004-11-05. Retrieved 2008-03-17.

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