concept: get on my lawn software.
a software design philosophy that believes good software ages like a fine wine. it shuns trends and salesmen disguised as programmers, shuns the fancy new framework. instead, gomls curates quality old software like a carefully tended forest. software that has stood the test of time, and, though it seems antiquated, it’s as robust as cast iron anvil.

software for the mature discerning adult


1. SQLIte came out in august of 2000, which makes it 19 years old. it has the distinguished honour of being the only program in existence that uses filesystem APIs correctly.

2. RSYNC came out in June 1996, it is 23 years old. it is the only program that I trust for copying large files and large amounts of files between any two points. it natively supports ssh and, in some configurations, uses an extremely clever rolling checksum algorithm that makes me seriously question the sanity of games consoles and operating systems vendors who do not use RSYNC for system and software updates.

rsync does have this one extremely irritating quirk though: different behavior on the presence of, or ansence of trailing slash on paths, that is basically impossible to memorise.

so that this list isn’t unixy stuff only
3. Excel, initial release, 1987, 32 years ago.
love it or hate it, excel gets shit done, it still gets shit done, and it’s been getting shit done for a very long time.

its fomula language and macros system fulfills the promise of users sooving their own problems in a way every other system has utterly failed, possibly because it’s cloaked from the ruinous grasp of “professional programmers” attempting to turn it into a “real” application platform.

fun fact: excel formalae are the world’s most popular pure functionsl programming language. move the fuck over, haskell .

4. NES roms.
if you want hyper sentient dog scientists in the year 40,000 to be able to run your software, write it as an NES rom. trust me on this.

5. Hypercard. 1987, 32 years old.
does this belong on the list, given that it’s no longer maintained?

well, there are still people who still use hypercard, either in a physical old mac or via mac emulators. they use hypercard to get useful work done. including bill atkinson. there are many imitators and clones, but somehow none come close to the approachability and and functionality tradoffs of the original. there are practical benefits to software that never changes.

6. TeX, 1978 (41 years old)
well, I can’t say much about this since i haven’t heavily used it. but despite many other formats coming and going, the LaTeX math expressions are still the undisputed defacto standard for encoding mathematical expressions.

and its line breaking algorithm is still more sophisticated than the algorithms used in most desktop word processing and publishing software.

7. Graphviz and the DOT language, before 1991 (28 years ago)
go away microsoft visio. don’t worry about clicking and dragging around little boxes forever. just type in a more or less simple text based language, and graphviz spits out a flowchart. and you’re done.

dot -> graphviz;
graphviz -> svg;
graphviz -> png;
graphviz -> ps;

@zensaiyuki / for contents of the fit, no / for the dir itself 🙃
@zensaiyuki fit --> dir

Can we please get a dictionary of tech words for mobile devices so I can stop being thwarted by autocorrect? 😭

@feld @zensaiyuki Exactly, it's rsync which is right, all the other software which is wrong.

AFAIKS, the only oddity is if you have multiple sources and a destination with no trailing slash it assumes the destination is a directory anyway.

E.g., current directory has two files, a and b.

rsync a c

Copies file a to file c.

rsync a b d

Copies files a and b to directory d. For consistency, perhaps the second case should be an error and you should have to write:

rsync a b d/


> fun fact: excel formalae are the world’s most popular pure functionsl programming language. move the fuck over, haskell.

Not *entirely* related, but I love this story about the project to add the first "real" version of excel macros in 1991:

@zensaiyuki You have an interesting combination of proprietary and free software on your list. The challenge with proprietary software is that while it's under development it is constantly getting new features (and bugs) added. And when it stops being developed it's dead. Free software doesn't have the same incentive for the maintainers to keep adding features forever, so it's able to stabilize. I guess the wine analogy would be "mellow"?

@zensaiyuki Rsync, TeX, and SQLite all qualify under the "stable" criterion I was interested in a while back. Probably also most of GNU, and maybe Linux LTS kernels after they've been baking long enough.

@zensaiyuki Shelx is older then anything else in your list, and still maintained. It first came out in the 1960s! Has major updates in 1976, 1997 and 2013!


"HyperCard combines a flat-file database with a graphical, flexible, user-modifiable interface."
ah, the ancient version of #tiddlywiki ...

@Valenoern see “why hypercard had to die” for more info on what hypercard was about.

@zensaiyuki For some reason, I assumed you were implying that the Doctor's K-9 ran on NES ROMs.

@FiXato @zensaiyuki I am perfectly fine with this. I just want proof of that.

I just want more NES ROMs and K-9 in general.


Does this apply to gameboy ROMs as well? Or is there something more elegant about the NES ROM architecture? I'm someone who knows little to nothing about either.

(Great concept + list, by the way)

@zensaiyuki I came to realize that with the rate that people make new NES emulators, they will absolutely keep making them for every new computing platform that comes out, probably indefinitely

@zensaiyuki spreadsheets are great for certain types of problems, not so great for other types. A very intriguing database-calculator hybrid.

@zensaiyuki It is certainly a shark wielding a Swiss Army chainsaw.

@zensaiyuki Excel is just an implementation of VisiCalc, and a pretty uninspired one at that — the praise should go to the original, in my opinion

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