Today I made a typo in the shell: instead of
m trc (
m being my alias for
trc the name of some trace file), I accidentally typed
mt rc. To my surprise, the system didn’t respond with
zsh: command not found: mt. It responded with this message:
mt: invalid argument ‘rc’ for ‘operation’ Valid arguments are: - ‘eof’, ‘weof’ - ‘fsf’ - ‘bsf’ - ‘fsr’ - ‘bsr’ - ‘rewind’ - ‘offline’, ‘rewoffl’, ‘eject’ - ‘status’ - ‘bsfm’ - ‘eom’ - ‘retension’ - ‘erase’ - ‘asf’ - ‘fsfm’ - ‘seek’
Say, what? I’ve been using Unix-like systems for
REDACTED years, but I don’t remember ever having used an
mt command. And so I checked the fine manual:
MT(1) GNU CPIO MT(1) NAME mt - control magnetic tape drive operation SYNOPSIS mt [-V] [-f device] [--file=device] [--rsh-command=command] [--version] operation [count] DESCRIPTION This manual page documents the GNU version of mt. mt performs the given operation, which must be one of the tape operations listed below, on a tape drive. The default tape device to operate on is taken from the file /usr/include/sys/mtio.h when mt is compiled. It can be overridden by giving a device file name in the environment variable TAPE or by a com‐ mand line option (see below), which also overrides the environment variable. ...
Now I admit that I am not too keen to upgrade my Ubuntu, but it’s not that ancient, either. It turns out that an Ubuntu distribution released in 2018 actually installs a program to control magnetic tape drive operation! I know, I know, the program is likely useful for other things as well, and
tar is technically also short for “tape archiver”, but it still feels a bit silly to carry this cruft into the 21st century.
And people say that Windows is arcane in its support for DOS graphics and x86 addressing modes.