March 30, 2024

Use old programmes

The mainstream pushes most people to ditch the old and adopt the latest technologies, software, applications, et cetera.

We feel that adopting the latest is best, while we forget that the latest technologies might be the first to vanish.


The Lindy effect.

Here is the definition, which is not easy to grasp. You will have to read it twice, or move on to the example.

The Lindy effect is the idea that the remaining life expectancy of a non-perishable good is equal to its current age1.

For example, cars which have existed for the last ~140 years are expected to exist for another ~140 years; an application that was released 2 years ago is expected to exist for another 2 years.

If we take into account the Lindy effect, we might want to adopt technologies that have passed the test of time”2.

People in the software industry know that. The rule of thumb is that 9 out of 10 software products will not survive at all.

So why adopt the latest technology when it might be gone sooner than we can imagine?
Can we recall how many times we’ve switched software? Why not instead adopt programmes that have passed the test of time?

Obviously, I am not saying there is no point in keeping an eye of the latest. The point of this blog post is to draw attention on the Lindy effect and the idea that we might benefit from looking at the past first.

These are some of the programmes (and one piece of hardware) I use:

/year of release/ /programme/

Release date fetched from Wikipedia otherwised specified in footnote.

  • 1971 cat
  • 1971 df
  • 1971 find
  • 1971 head3
  • 1971 sort
  • 1971 tail4
  • 1971 man
  • 1971 cal
  • 1971 date
  • 1971 wc
  • 1973 grep
  • 1973 file
  • 1974 sed
  • 1975 bc
  • 1977 awk
  • 1978 history
  • 1979 tar
  • 1979 touch
  • 1984 LaTex
  • 1984 less
  • 1991 Vim
  • 1992 gzip
  • 1995 mutt
  • 1995 ssh
  • 1996 pdfseparate5
  • 1996 pdftotext6
  • 1996 pdfunite7
  • 1996 wget
  • 1997 dpkg
  • 1997 apt-get
  • 1999 gpg
  • 1999 postfix
  • 2000 abook8
  • 2001 openvpn
  • 2001 vlc
  • 2002 dovecot
  • 2003 jitsi
  • 2003 msmtp
  • 2004 nginx
  • 2005 okular
  • 2005 git
  • 2006 pandoc
  • 2007 trisquel GNU/Linux
  • 2007 abrowser
  • 2007 ncdu
  • 2008 backintime
  • 2009 viewnior
  • 2009 surf9
  • 2009 notmuch
  • 2012 keepassxc
  • 2012 Thinkpad X220 (I have two, one I use as a mail server)
  • 2014 datamash10
  • 2014 forgejo11
  • 2015 wireguard

I don’t have a smartphone.

Other programmes I use: ufw, mbsync, apropos, apt-get, fc, other 1971 Unix utilities, etc.

And, we should not omit the programmes and protocols we use but don’t see: http created in 1990, XMPP (e.g. which Whatsapp is built with): 1999, SMTP (~email): 1970s and many many more.

  1. Read about in Taleb’s book, definition from Wikipedia↩︎

  2. I think that is from Taleb.↩︎

  3. I am assuming it was released with Unix↩︎

  4. I am assuming it was released with Unix↩︎

  5. First copyright date from the man page↩︎

  6. First copyright date from the man page↩︎

  7. First copyright date from the man page↩︎

  8. Not sure about the date↩︎

  9. Date of oldest commit↩︎

  10. Not sure about the date↩︎

  11. Date of first commit↩︎


I do self-funded research and I'm writing a book.

> What's the book about?

About technologies and agency.

Meaning, technologies can foster agency. No doubt. But I am also asking:

Can usage of technologies give us a sense of empowerment while in fact undermining our abilities?

I posted a summary of the prologue on the homepage:


personal computing office applications digital literacy blog post

No affiliate links, no analytics, no tracking, no cookies. This work © 2016-2024 by is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0 .   about me   contact me   all entries & tags   FAQ   GPG public key

GPG fingerprint: 2E0F FB60 7FEF 11D0 FB45 4DDC E979 E52A 7036 7A88