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a set of cultural norms and philosophical approaches to minimalist, modular software development. It is based on the experience of leading developers of the Unix operating system. Early Unix developers were important in bringing the concepts of modularity and reusability into software engineering practice, spawning a «software tools» movement. Over time, the leading developers of Unix (and programs that ran on it) established a set of cultural norms for developing software, norms which became as important and influential as the technology of Unix itself; this has been termed the «Unix philosophy.»

The Unix philosophy emphasizes building simple, short, clear, modular, and extensible code that can be easily maintained and repurposed by developers other than its creators. The Unix philosophy favors composability as opposed to monolithic design.

It was later summarized by Peter H. Salus in A Quarter-Century of Unix (1994):

  • Write programs that do one thing and do it well.
  • Write programs to work together.
  • Write programs to handle text streams, because that is a universal interface.