Your wget is broken and should DIE, dev tells Microsoft

PowerShell applause sours as curl dev doesn't care much for Redmond's alias either


Well, that didn't take long: within a week of applause for Microsoft's decision to open-source PowerShell, a comment-war has broken out over curl and wget.

For those not familiar with these commands: they're open source command line tools for fetching internet content without a browser. Apart from obvious applications like downloading whole sites (for example as backup), they're also under the hood for a lot of other toolsets (an example the author is familiar with – GIS tools use curl and/or wget to fetch maps from Web services).

For some reason, Microsoft's team decided to put aliases for curl and wget in Windows PowerShell – but, as this thread begins, those aliases don't deliver curl and wget functionality.

The pull request – submitted by the main curl author, Bagder – says the aliases should be spiked: “They block use of the commonly used command line tools without providing even an attempt to offer the same functionality. They serve no purpose for PowerShell users but cause confusion and problems to existing curl and wget users.”

That set a fire: first, a PowerShell team member refused because it would be “a breaking change”.

Bagder retorts that adding the aliases was the problem, and it then emerged that the issue exists when people used to the *nix life install curl/wget separately from PowerShell on Windows boxes, creating a clash with the aliases.

The problem with simply removing them is that users might already have written scripts using the functionality provided by the aliases; Microsoft's position is therefore that killing them needs to go through a community request for comment (RFC) process.

Vulture South doesn't suppose that the issue is going to shake the world, but it's an interesting example of the kind of cultural discontinuity Microsoft's going to have to deal with, living in the world of open source software. ®

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