Unix History Question: Why are filenames/dirnames case sentsitive in Unix?

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# 1  
Old 03-14-2005
Unix History Question: Why are filenames/dirnames case sentsitive in Unix?

I tried looking for the answer online and came up with only a few semi-answers as to why file and directory names are case sensitive in Unix. Right off the bat, I'll say this doesn't bother me. But I run into tons of Windows and OpenVMS admins in my day job who go batty when they have to deal with case sensitivity and I hate not really having a good answer for them. The best answer I can give them is that it allows for more filenames in the namespace, but they usually just grunt and reply, "yeah, but who cares". Knowing that Unix seems to have been refined into a really well thought out OS over the decades, I'm sure there must be a reason why case sensitivity was kept (other than legacy compatibility) instead of moving to a case insensitive naming convention. Any gurus out there have any good answers I can give them besides, "You'll get nothing and like it too!!" ;P
# 2  
Old 03-14-2005
I think the reason was because in the real world, there is a difference in name conventions. A is different than a.
Case sensitivity does give more security to passwords, by allowing for more combinations.

I personally prefer case sensitivity, it allows me to have many files, with the same name in a folder, such as Resume, resume. I can have all folders in proper case while files can be all lowercase, allows me to have more control over my filesystem. I believe under DOS/Windows, you could only have a single file named Resume, be it a folder or a file, but not both in the same directory. Unless you add differences to the name.

This may or may not give some help:
# 3  
Old 03-14-2005
Thoughout the sixties, computers were upper case only. Most printers could not print a lower case letter. Crt's were very rare, and printing terminals could not handle 2 cases. I used to enter my programs on a 029 keypunch which was upper case only.

Unix bucked the trend by supporting two cases. Look at the "stty iuclc" and "stty olcuc" commands. These show the hoops that unix had to jump through to support two cases in a one case world. I believe that they did it to support the Ascii standard which very clearly states that A and a are two different characters.

Microsoft built dos for IBM. At first it was called "PC-DOS". I think IBM wanted compatability with it's other OS's which were monocase.
# 4  
Old 03-26-2005
In my experience, there are very few times where I have to deal with upper case at all in Unix.

I actually prefer lower case now. I see the case sensitivity as another layer of sophistication for unixes. it offers another bit of security as well as for some convention if you wish.

I had a friend who would use Upper case for the first char of a dir name (non-os) then lower for the rest. Also, in teh case of some exe files, use ALL UPPER. For quick identification.

Upper case has its uses... not to be considered trivial.
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