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UNIX in a Nutshell: System V Edition

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B. Obsolete Commands

This appendix contains entries for commands that are still shipped with SVR4 and/or Solaris, but which have been superseded in their functions by other commands or technologies. Here you will find:

  • Introduction

  • Alphabetical summary of commands

B.1 Introduction

The commands in this appendix fall into several categories. This list describes the commands and why they are obsolete.

Archive maintenance

lorder and tsort were used to order the placement of object files in a library archive. Modern versions of ar maintain a symbol table, allowing the loader ld to find object files as needed.


cu , uucp , uuglist , uulog , uuname , uupick , uustat , uuto , uux , and write .

These commands were used for dial-up interactive or system-to-system communications. Widely available Internet connectivity has generally made them obsolete. talk is a better alternative to write .


pack , pcat , and unpack have been made obsolete by compress /uncompress , and by gzip /gunzip .

File processing

  • bfs was intended for processing large files, up to one megabyte. vi on modern systems easily handles files that are considerably larger.

  • crypt provided file encryption. However, its algorithm is considered weak, and better tools are available today.

  • newform was intended for data-reformatting. This is much more easily handled with sed or awk .

  • red is a restricted version of ed . In practice, the restricted versions of various commands were never very useful. They were hard to set up and use correctly. ed itself is rarely used today.

  • sum apparently just adds up the bytes in a file, making its checksum of questionable value. cksum should be used instead.

  • tabs controlled setting tab stops on reprogrammable terminals. However, Unix systems are rarely, if ever, used for writing in the programming languages it handles.

  • vc provided a very simple-minded form of version control. RCS and SCCS are much better alternatives.


ismpx , jterm , jwin , layers , relogin , and shl .

All but shl are specific to the now obsolete AT&T Teletype 5620 DMD windowing terminal. The X Window system provides windowing functionality on modern Unix systems. shl was an attempt to provide functionality similar to BSD job control that never caught on.

Network status

ruptime , rwho , whois .

The first two programs use daemons that often overloaded local area networks. The whois registry has been outgrown by the Internet, which is now much too large for centrally tracking everyone who might use it.

Simple menus

face and fmli provided a simple way to create menu-driven programs for CRT terminals. They simply never caught on, particularly with the increase in popularity of systems based on the X Window system.


mailalias , notify , and vacation are used with the UPAS mailing system, which was standard with SVR4. Modern Unix systems use sendmail .

Windowing systems

OpenWindows (started by the openwin command) was the default windowing system on SunOS and Solaris for many years. CDE (the Common Desktop Environment) is now Sun's preferred windowing environment for Solaris. OpenWindows will not be supported past Solaris 7.


  • cof2elf converts object files and archives in COFF format to ELF format. As ELF format is now at least 10 years old, this program is not likely to still be necessary.

  • fmtmsg was intended to provide a standardized way of generating error messages from shell scripts. It was never widely used.

  • fold wraps lines to fit in a specific width. fmt generally does a better job.

  • lptest generates a ripple pattern for line printers. Today, laser printers and ink-jet printers are more common.

  • newgrp dates from when Unix systems allowed a user to be in only one group at a time. Modern Unix systems allow users to be in multiple groups simultaneously.

  • news provides items of interest to system users. It is per-machine. Usenet news software is a much better alternative.

  • pg is a simple pager. Use more instead.

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A. ASCII Character Set Book Index B.2 Alphabetical Summary of Commands

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