Do you accept advertisements or guest posts?


Will you review or link to my product?


Since 2012, many people who have emailed me have ignored the answers to the above two questions, forcing me to sum them up in one word and to put them at the top of this list. Please don’t be the next offender—there is no way your product will be seen on this site.

Why “Arabesque”?

An arabesque is a form of artistic decoration commonly seen in architecture. It may seem random at first glance, but a wider view of an arabesque shows an overarching pattern. I think programming on Unix-like operating systems is much like this; some of the systems’ eccentricities in detail make more sense when you consider each system and its history in context.

It’s also a nod to my favorite short story, The Silver Key by H. P. Lovecraft:

Certainly, I look forward impatiently to the sight of that great silver key, for in its cryptical arabesques there may stand symbolised all the aims and mysteries of a blindly impersonal cosmos.

Can I edit, repost, or republish your articles?

Arabesque articles are distributed under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike (BY-NC-SA) Creative Commons license, so you can re-post the work on any not-for-profit website without asking me, as long as you attribute me as the author, preferably in the form of a link back to the article.

If you do want to distribute anything for commercial purposes, please contact me first, and we’ll sort out an ad-hoc license for you.

Can I translate your articles?

A few people since 2012 have translated some of my articles into other languages. This came as a pleasant surprise. I particularly welcome translations; if you write one, I’d love to know about it so I can link to it from the original article. Please email me.

Can I hire you for systems administration or programming?

I’m presently (2021-03-01) contentedly employed doing both for a company with a non-compete clause in my contract, so probably not.

Can I hire you for technical writing?

Maybe; please email me.

Why do you post so infrequently?

I’m trying to avoid posting content that’s already been treated thoroughly elsewhere by other high-quality blogs or community resources on the web, which is something I did far too much up to around 2014. This means I only post when I find write about a topic that I don’t feel has been nicely covered elsewhere. Usually this means I add a fair bit of a more opinionated slant.

If you want to find other content in a similar mode, my Unidex page is where I drop links to stuff that I often read or refer to myself. I’m trying to avoid rehashing too much of those resources unless I can add what I feel is an original slant, or clarify any of it.

Aside from that, I’m very busy—I work full-time in systems administration. I don’t write for a living.

Will you write about a particular question for me?

Sure, if you think I’d be able to answer it. If you read a few of my posts, you’ll see that I’m probably the wrong guy to ask about Emacs configuration, or Visual Studio C# development, but if you think your topic might pique my interest, email me.

Do you share your configuration files?

My dotfiles are here. I write a fair bit about personal tool configurations, particularly editors and shells, so I’m always tinkering with my own stuff.

Weren’t there comments on your posts before?

Yes, but I’ve removed them now, mostly because with web traffic now driven by social media and link aggregation websites, there isn’t much point maintaining my own comment section. It made the pages large and unwieldy anyway.

How can I thank you, or contribute?

Send me an email telling me what you liked about the blog, or how it helped you. It makes my day, and it gives me some idea of what’s useful to people and what isn’t. I do have a Flattr account and a Book Depository wishlist if you’re feeling really generous.

This section used to ask that readers join a free software foundation. At the time of writing, I no longer feel I can recommend this in good conscience, but thank you to those who did so in the past.