Becoming an Old-school Unix Pro

First published — Jul 23, 2023
Last updated — Aug 14, 2023
#unix #bsd #gnu #linux #history #funny

Unix, GNU, Linux and general IT resources. Becoming an old-school pro.

Table of Contents


Here is a list of resources you can read or join to become a quality member of the general Unix community, something like an old-school professional.

Links are listed roughly in the order of effort required, from passive sources delivered to your email or social accounts, to documents and videos to read, to tasks and projects you can join and contribute to.

Most links are relevant to the subject, with occasional humorous ones.

TUHS and COFF Mailing Lists

TUHS and COFF are two Unix-related mailing lists hosted at's mailman.

The TUHS mailing list is intended for Unix-related subjects only. COFF is a more of an other/off-topic list.

The lists are run by Warren Toomey, and brought him a 2022 USENIX Lifetime Achievement Award. Warren’s motivation for running the lists can be read in his blog post Why Did I Start the Unix Heritage Society?, and an interview with him after the USENIX award can be read in Usenix’ Interview with Warren Toomey.

The subscription method is non-standard. You should send an email to wkt(AT)tuhs(DOT)org with the content similar to:

“Hello Warren, please subscribe me to the TUHS and COFF mailing lists. My email address is …, thanks.”

Beware 1: these lists are old-school and not for the faint of heart, with many members being part of the original teams that worked on Unix from the ’70s onwards. Your presence there should mostly be to read, not post messages. The discussions and side stories that can be read on those lists are quite interesting.

Beware 2: from time to time, on these lists one can read unusually opinionated or uninformed comments, particularly in relation to things that came after Unix. Those should be accepted and understood in context, with appreciation for the parts of computer history and efforts in which their authors did meaningfully participate.

RISKS Mailing List

RISKS Digest or “Forum On Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems” is an online periodical published since 1985 by the Committee on Computers and Public Policy of the Association for Computing Machinery. The editor is Peter G. Neumann. .

It has the RISKS Digest homepage and the RISKS mailing list which you should subscribe to.

The subscriptions are done in the usual way, from the GNU Mailman interface linked above.

Old Computer Ads Mailing List

Computer Ads from the Past Vintage Computer Ads

Internet History Mailing List

UNIX Guru Universe

Unix Guru Universe (UGU) is an old website with various Unix-related information.

Admittedly, the site in general may be of little use these days, but the following resources are particularly useful or interesting:

  • Daily UGU Unix tips, which you can also subscribe to and receive via email. Please note that due to UGU being an old-school website and not all tips being reviewed properly, some tips are obsolete, or impractical, or just plain wrong! Beware. But on the flip side, there are some great ones too.

    For example, Tip #4537 is wrong; it would work in simple scenarios, but cause bad consequences in others due to very insecure use of * and $i expansion. The right way to do what the author intended would be to use program mmv, or run the manual and safe approach with find ... -exec mv {} {}.bak \;.

  • Daily UGU excuses, which you can use whenever you need a new excuse. This is a resource somewhat in style of BOFH excuses or generic Unix fortunes.

  • Usenix Playing Cards, a copy of a 1994 deck of playing cards, created by The USENIX Association. That commemorative card deck was created to honor contributors to UNIX on the occasion of Unix 25th Anniversary, and features one Unix contributor on each card. The images are not clickable; people should be clicked from a general list of Unix contributors instead (see next point below).

  • UGU List of Unix Contributors, giving names and short descriptions of people which contributed to Unix, mostly in the early days.

SP&E Journal

Software: Practice and Experience is an international journal discussing tools and practices for software systems and applications.

It was started in 1971, and is issued monthly. Many articles are available as PDFs, without an institutional subscription. There is a mailing list available to receive notifications of new articles and issues.


Non IT-related, there is an Internet service delivering one new English word and its dictionary definitions to your email daily.

Subscribe at A.Word.A.Day.


For the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Unix operating system and the 32nd anniversary of the establishment of the SDF Public Access Unix System, a collection of simulated historical Unix systems was prepared for visitors’ exploration and entertainment.

The website is, and instructions for using it are on

Note: the website’s availability may vary.


HCoop, Inc. is a non-profit Internet Hosting Cooperative in operation since 2002, offering GNU/Linux accounts for $7/mo per account. Interested individuals can pledge to pay more per month to support the organization.

HCoop operates a proper GNU/Linux infrastructure based on Kerberos and OpenAFS. It is probably the only public service offering accounts based on the OpenAFS distributed filesystem. You can read more practical information about AFS in OpenAFS Installation on Debian/Ubuntu/Devuan.

Among other available member services are shell, DNS, web, and email hosting, databases, chat, and more.

Many of HCoop members are highly technically skilled.

HCoop, Inc. website is and all other relevant information is available there.

This is the right place to join if you are interested in an online GNU/Linux-based account.


SDF is a non-profit public access UNIX shell provider that has been in continual operation since 1987.

Its infrastructure is based on NetBSD. In 2016 it had about 50K users and was the largest NetBSD installation in the world.

SDF also also provides many retrocomputing environments.

This is the right place to join if you are interested in an online BSD-based account.


Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is the traditional real-time chat, whose servers used to host hundreds of thousands of members in the 1990s and 2000s, before the total user community was fragmented into various proprietary and/or web-based chats.

A good IRC client you could use is HexChat, and the two IRC networks you should join are and

Unix Papers, Books, and other Materials

See .

Misc Websites

Unspecific collection of Unix-aware websites:

Automatic Links

The following links appear in the article:

2. RISKS Digest -
3. Computer Ads From the Past -
4. BOFH -
5. Unix Fortunes -
6. Kerberos -
7. NetBSD -
8. OpenAFS -
9. Peter G. Neumann. -
10. RISKS Digest -
12. HexChat -
14. RISKS Mailing List -
15. Why Did I Start the Unix Heritage Society? -
16. Software: Practice and Experience -
17. Vintage Computer Ads -
18. SDF Public Access Unix System -
20. UGU List of Unix Contributors -
21. Usenix Playing Cards -
22. Tip #4537 -
23. Daily UGU Unix Tips -
24. Daily UGU Excuses -
26. A.Word.A.Day -
28.'s Mailman -
29. Unix Guru Universe (UGU) -
30. Interview With Warren Toomey -