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Magic idiom




Magic idiom

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." – Arthur C. Clarke, The Third Law.

We are often asked about our choice of a "magical" theme for our project components, commands, etc.
Common phrasings include "What's with all this magic stuff?" and "Is Source Mage the distro for Harry Potter fans?".

It is a little odd to us that Un*x users and administrators would be confused by or have a problem with this terminology. Un*x systems have a long history of using light-hearted terms for commands and concepts, particularly magical ones. The name "Unix" itself is a pun, not an acronym, whether the trademark lawyers want to remember this or not. We certainly weren't the first to talk about UN*X "gurus" and "wizards", and Gary Overacre's iconic poster depicting a "Unix Wizard" was classic before many of the current crop of Linux users were born.

It is of course fair to say that we apply this theme more completely and purposefully than just some random names here and there, but we start from the same place. We use these terms to keep things fun and not too serious, just like the giants who went before us did, and more than that we use them to remind us of and tie us to our history. We don't really make a big deal about it in any case, so if some users and admins want to troll about this it perhaps says more about them than anything about us; here again there is nothing new. Given that our target user base is primarily experienced admins who want their systems built their way and new users honestly interested in learning, it suits us fine if people more concerned about names than concepts don't want to come along for the ride.

On the other hand, we do realize that some people who want to come along don't necessarily get to pick for themselves, and this terminology may not fly with some suits. We have users and developers in the enterprise just like everyone else, some of whom manage to use what they prefer, some of whom are more restricted in what they can deploy, be it Source Mage or something else. There's not even anything new there; Unix spent many years working its way into the enterprise and getting taken seriously. But since our primary focus is on allowing local administrator choice, for those users (or bosses) who care we do plan to eventually make even the names of commands an optional thing. In the meantime hopefully people will manage to make decisions on what to use based on technical merits, not Harry Potter prejudices.