Welcome to my home page. I am Arnold Robbins. In Israel, where I live now, I use my Hebrew name, "Aharon". My wife and family continue to call me "Arnold"; I answer to both. :-)

This website is, and will likely remain, a work-in-progress, probably forever.

Initially, I decided to try using a WYSIWYG HTML editor — Amaya from the W3C. In particular, I really liked the fact that it is Free Software that works on GNU/Linux. I was also very impressed that it compiled out-of-the-box with no problems.

In May 2010, after updating to Fedora 12, Amaya no longer compiled. I switched to Kompozer.

But for many years now, I gave up on that too, and I just edit the raw HTML with vim.


I know this looks like something out of 1992. However, to quote the old Jim Croce song: "There's never enough time to do the things you want to do, once you find them...". At least there's a page here; fancy web design will have to wait until my next reincarnation. ;-)

Some Biographical Stuff

I am a native of Atlanta, GA, in the USA, where I was born and spent most of my life. I earned my undergraduate degree at Yeshiva University in New York City and my graduate degree at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

I am a professional programmer and technical author. I am also a happy husband, the father of four wonderful children, and an amateur Talmudist (Babylonian and Jerusalem). My wife and I have been married since 1990, and boy does the time fly!

Since late 1997, My family and I have been living in Israel. I speak Hebrew pretty well, although as a second language, with a definite American accent. I despair of ever getting all the gender difference stuff right.

I have two younger brothers and, between my brother and brother-in-law, four nieces and one nephew.

Some Professional History Stuff

I have been working with Unix systems since 1980, when I was introduced to a PDP-11 running a version of Sixth Edition Unix. My experience also includes multiple commercial Unix systems, from Sun, IBM, HP and DEC. I have been working with GNU/Linux systems since 1996. I like my ancient Macintosh laptop, but it now gets very little use.

I have been a heavy awk user since 1987, when I became involved with gawk, the GNU Project's version of awk. As a member of the POSIX 1003.2 balloting group in the early 1990s, I helped shape the POSIX standard for awk.

As mentioned, I maintain gawk (which is Free Software) and its documention. The Free Software Foundation's home page for gawk is here. I have been involved with gawk since late 1987 or so, and have been the sole maintainer since approximately 1994.

Should you be at my home page because you are unhappy with how I function as gawk's maintainer, please read this open letter.

In previous incarnations I have been a systems administrator, and a teacher of Unix and networking Continuing Education classes. I have also had more than one poor experience with start-up software companies, which I prefer not to think about anymore. For several years I worked writing high end Command and Control related software for a leading Israeli software company. After that I worked at Intel's Israel Software Design Center, in Jerusalem, for about 7.5 years.

Now, in my mild-mannered secret identity as Aharon Robbins, I work at one of McAfee's Israel offices, on their Database Security product. This office was originally Sentrigo, a start-up company purchased by McAfee in 2011, shortly before McAfee was acquired by Intel.

My full resume/CV, in PDF form, is here. The version with just my Israel work history and without my publications is here. The "executive summary" version is here. The files are purposely in PDF; were they in Word anybody could just take them and change them to say whatever they wanted.

My domain is named after the main character in Robert Asprin's "myth" series of books which I was really into at the time I got my first home computer (a Unix system, of course). Initially, I was skeeve!arnold (yes, UUCP), and then later, arnold AT Shortly after moving to Israel, I registered the domain. (Once upon a time I was also arnold AT but that address was disabled many years ago; don't try to use it.)

A talk I gave in May 2014 at the Modi'in Open Source Developer's Club is available here. This is an updated version of a talk I gave at the August 2011 August Penguin meeting. (They didn't want to put it up because it did not allow modifications. But this is autobiography, not documentation.)


I am the author or co-author of a number of books from O'Reilly and Prentice Hall. The full list is available here (courtesy of A page at O'Reilly with links to all my stuff is here.

I am the Series Editor for the Prentice Hall Open Source Software Development Series.


At the beginning of 2017, O'Reilly published a video training course I did for them, Robust Shell Scripting. Check it out!


I have also written some articles for Linux Journal (long ago) and for O'Reilly. Here are the Linux Journal articles:

An article on gawk 4.1 for Dr. Dobb's Journal is here.

I wrote three articles for O'Reilly:

Miscellaneous Software

Besides gawk I have produced some other software of interest over the years. In the first half of 2015 I made these bits available on Github.

I will eventually add a list here, with links, describing each one.

Web Interviews

I have even been interviewed. Here are links to the ones I can find:

I'm a YouTube Star!

[NEW!] Here is a talk I gave at the 2017 August Penguin on work I did at McAfee on Open Source Database plugins. It's just under 34 minutes long, in English.

The talk was for the local PostgreSQL Users Group; most of the talk is general and then the focus towards the end is on PostgreSQL. Thanks to Eli Marmor for the video recording, editing, and uploading to YouTube!

Some Miscellaneous Links That Aren't Organized Yet

Here is a roadmap for gawk development.

[NEW!] This is a paper desribing why awk can finally function as a systems programming language.

Here is an article about gawk 4.0.0 on

In 1998, published a two-part article about why developers trained in the Unix mindset are better able to handle situations where things go wrong. The title was "The Dumbing Down of Programming".  Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2. Each part has two pages. I recommend reading the full article. (Unfortunately, these seem to not be available anymore.)

October 2014 Update: Courtesy of Richard Blake, the articles can be found. Here are the links to Part 1, and Part 2.

Peter Norvig, head of development for Google, wrote a wonderful essay entitled "Teach Yourself Programming In 10 Years".  It is here.  I liked it so much that I quoted it as an appendix in my book on Linux programming.

Some things are really hard to get right, such as the value of two.

This link describes a study showing that the cognitive style encouraged by the Unix command-line way of working is good for improving understanding and efficiency.

A study showing that patent trolls have caused a huge amount of lost wealth.

The following story, ``How I Met My Wife'', by Jack Winter, is just a brilliant piece of writing.

Here is a nice (but a bit long) description of one of the things I did on my vacation in August 2013: a visit to the Chihuly Museum in Seattle.

Here is the ``origin story'' of Sherman and Mr. Peabody.

This is a Git man page generator.

A nice description of What Programmers Say vs. What They Mean.

German can be a very strange language. Video.

A Ted Talk on Why Work Doesn't Happen at Work.

The 1984 ``kremvax'' hoax.

A nice quote, by Mike Spencer: The command line is like language. The GUI is like shopping.

Another nice quote, attributed to Alistair Dabbs: As we've seen time and time again, the Internet of Things is demonstrably as robust and secure as a kitten crossing a motorway.

A wonderful early Saturday Night Live skit: Star Trek: The Last Voyage. This may not be accessable outside the US.

Software Signing Key Fingerprint

If you need to verify the authenticity of software obtained from, please follow the instructions at The key fingerprint for FSF files signed by Arnold Robbins <arnold AT> is:

Key fingerprint = D196 7C63 7887 1317 7D86  1ED7 DF59 7815 937E C0D2

Contact Info

If you are so impressed that you wish to reach me, send email to arnold AT skeeve DOT com. No web links, since I already get more spam than anyone deserves.

Blah blah stuff

Copyright 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 Arnold David Robbins. All Rights Reserved.

First started: 24 March, 2009.

Last updated: 8 August, 2018.