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I have encountered a set of instructions that contains the text:

The option exists to expand onto the second drive while the system is live. Except for simplicity, there isn't any reason not to. - CentOS Wiki - How to Convert a CentOS 5 System to RAID1

As far as I can tell the last sentence can be rewritten as: "For simplicity alone, there is reason to." Is that correct and does the word 'except' make the last sentence a triple negative statement?

Edit: for clarification the thing being decided to do or not to do, is if it should be done with the system in its live state instead of offline.

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Rewriting the last sentence this way should make its meaning more clear:

The option exists to expand onto the second drive while the system is live. There isn't any reason not to, except for simplicity.

The word except is "used for introducing the only person, thing, or fact that is not included in your main statement."

The main statement of the last sentence is:

There isn't any reason not to [choose this option].

The except phrase is just the writer's way of throwing in this aside:

Well, there is one reason: simplicity.

A less convoluted way of phrasing the instruction might have been, "Do this, unless you prefer to keep things simple."

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  • I think you are correct. Though doing things in a complicated way just to avoid keeping things simple, seems crazy to me. Perhaps the author of the Wiki page confused themselves and didn't write what they really meant. – BeowulfNode42 Dec 3 '13 at 4:19
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It's saying "There's an option to expand onto the second drive, so why not take advantage of it? The only reason to not take advantage of the option is if you prefer the simplicity of a single drive"

That's how I interpreted it.

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  • I hadn't even considered that particular interpretation, and now realise the statement is ambiguous, as well as convoluted. I've updated my question to better reflect the intent of the statement. – BeowulfNode42 Dec 3 '13 at 4:02
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No,

"Except for simplicity, there isn't any reason not to [do this]."

does not mean the same as:

"For simplicity alone, there is reason to [do this]."

Rather, it basically means:

"The only [possible] reason not to [do this] is simplicity."

Furthermore, by shuffling off the mention of simplicity into a dependent clause, the original phrasing de-emphasizes its importance — the main clause is simply stating that "there isn't any reason not to [do this]", with the dependent clause merely qualifying that blanket statement with the only possible exception the author could think of.

Basically, what the author seems to be trying to say, paraphrased in my own words, is:

"It would be (slightly) simpler not to do this. Besides that, however, there is no reason not to do it (and, presumably, there are reasons, such as convenience, to do it)."

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  • Can you paraphrase without the double negative? or does the logic of the sentence require the double negative? – BeowulfNode42 Dec 3 '13 at 22:29
  • No, I can't, because the negatives don't (look, another "double negative"!) really cancel out. The statements "there is no reason to do this" and "there is no reason not to do this" could both be true at the same time, if the choice between "doing this" and "not doing this" was irrelevant and there was no reason to prefer either option over the other. Indeed, their respective opposites, "there is a reason to do this" and "there is a reason not to do this" could also both be true simultaneously, if each option had its own advantages (say, one was faster and the other cheaper). – Ilmari Karonen Dec 3 '13 at 23:13

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