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RE: Case insensitivity ad nauseum

From: Greg A. Woods
Subject: RE: Case insensitivity ad nauseum
Date: Thu, 6 Nov 2003 17:55:26 -0500 (EST)

[ On Wednesday, November 5, 2003 at 10:11:45 (-0500), Jim.Hyslop wrote: ]
> Subject: RE: Case insensitivity ad nauseum

Hi Jim!  How are you!  How are things at Leitch?  :-)

> From the time we first learned to read, we have never considered the case of
> a word to be significant in determining the identity of an object being
> referred to.

I think you're headed _WAY_ off track there.

This really has nothing much to do with reading and human languages or
anything like that.

Case sensitivity is an important and useful feature in computer
languages, including filesystem naming.

Many of us consider those filesystems which cannot preserve case, but
which accept "input" in random case, to be so utterly broken as to be
undeserving of any attention whatsoever.  They create a situation where
the computer effectively considers the users to be too stupid or blind
or whatever to be able to say what we mean accurately.

Besides, there are lots of situations in plain old English where a
capitalised word has at least different connotations, if not also a
different meaning from its all lowercase companion.

> As you have probably gathered, my background is almost entirely
> Windows-based.  In case-sensitive (i.e. Unix) systems, what is the generally
> accepted practise with respect to naming files: is it generally considered
> bad practise to have two files with the same name, that differ only by case,
> in the same directory?

Nope -- indeed it is far more common than you might think to have files
with names which differ only in the case of their letters.

About the only thing in Unix history where the case of filename
characters has been ignored in some way has been with "make" where it
will try the file "makefile" and if it cannot find a file by that name
then it will try the file "Makefile", though in this case it is quite
often used to advantage and files of both names will exist in a

> My understanding is that the common practise on Unix
> is to use all lower-case names, to avoid potential confusion.

Confusion has nothing to do with it -- it's all about "SHOUTING"! ;-)

It also had to do with having a distinguishing feature that made Unix
(and Multics) look better and smarter than all those ancient old
mainframe systems which only used uppercase characters.  Use of
lowercase letters distinguised Unix from many stuffy/stodgy old systems,
and ability to not only preserve case in file content and file names,
but also to distinguish between names differing only in case, gave Unix
(and Multics) a powerful new ability those older systems did not have.

(and the reason for not capitalizing many filenames was that it is
rather hard to touch type upper-case letters on a real Teletype ASR-33
-- those damn little round keys are hard enough to press on their own,
one at a time, without also trying to press a shift key with your other
hand at the same time too!)

> Let's build software that works the way people expect.

I expect my software to honour and recognize case differences in
filenames (and all other identifiers too!)

                                                Greg A. Woods

+1 416 218-0098                  VE3TCP            RoboHack <address@hidden>
Planix, Inc. <address@hidden>          Secrets of the Weird <address@hidden>

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