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The Cracraft and Lijewski DIRED Programs

By Grant B. Gustafson gustafso@math.utah.edu

The directory navigator and program launcher called "DIRED" in the original incarnations of EMACS has two stand-alone Unix clones. Mike Lijewski's "dired" 2.2 is written in C++ (1996). The original "dired" was written in C by Stuart Cracraft (1980), available as version 3.05 (1997).

Historically, shortly after emacs "dired" appeared in the TECO implementation, a stand-alone version was written by Stuart Cracraft (1980). The emacs version and the C version have not kept up with one another.

Lijewski wrote "dired" in 1990, while at Cornell University Theory Center, without any knowledge of Cracraft's "dired". The Theory Center ran on IBM VM/CMS, under which there is a utility call "file manager". This program manages the flat VM/CMS file system and represents the main user interface into files. The creation of "dired" eased the transition from VM/CMS to Unix.

Lijewski's "dired" has the advantage of hindsight and C++ program development so it promises to be written in modern syntax and very maintainable. Cracraft's "dired" was rewritten in 1996 in ANSI C. It suffers with flaws in both design and readability, but the features are there.

Common features of Cracraft's and Lijewski's "dired"

Minor differences exist in the implementation of these features. Cracraft's dired supports split screen. Lijewski's dired supports scrolling by half-page. Deletes in Cracraft's dired are done in batch whereas Lijewski's dired does them immediately.

Curiously, the common features of the two direds also account for the most often used dired commands.

The differences between Lijewski's "dired" and Cracraft's "dired" in 1997 appear below. Many features commonly exist in both versions, so only the superficial differences are discussed. Strengths and weaknesses of each are also listed.

Unique features of Lijewski's "dired"

Strengths: Weaknesses:

Unique features of Cracraft's Dired 3.05

Strengths: Weaknesses:

Misfeatures of both versions of "dired"

The program tends to be used for browsing and deleting files; users find the other features too obtuse for daily use. Too many commands. Its hard to remember what key does which command.

How to Get Dired

Find dired305.zip at http://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/. Or email to gustafson@math.utah.edu for location of recent version.

Find Lijewski's c++ dired by sending email to lijewski@mothra.lbl.gov for location of the recent version. If you want to see it on sunsite, then let Mike hear about it!

Copyright © 1997, Grant B. Gustafson
Published in Issue 14 of the Linux Gazette