Recently, I read on planet debian another rant along the lines of “why oh why do people use cat when they could just redirect from a file?” – but not that this is a new complaint from expert users.
I’ve got one big reason for using cat on the command-line: it’s far too easy to type gpg >encryptedfile when you mean gpg <encryptedfile and almost no systems have noclobber switched on by default any more, even on shells that support such an option. So you end up losing a valuable data file and having to recover it from backups – I’ve seen it happen too often.
Because the pipe symbol is nowhere near anything destructive, cat encryptedfile |gpg seems far less likely to end in tears, so I try not to criticise someone for doing that.
That doesn’t completely excuse using it in a script file, though, especially if it’s used lots.
Is there another way I’ve forgotten that would reduce the risk of a destructive typo in the redirection?