Gentoo Archives: gentoo-dev

From: Aron Griffis <agriffis@g.o>
To: gentoo-dev@g.o
Subject: [gentoo-dev] [agriffis@gentoo.org: regarding head/tail syntax]
Date: Sun, 21 Sep 2003 01:06:36
Message-Id: 20030921010635.GC32446@time
1 My apologies, I intended to cc this to gentoo-dev in the first place,
2 not gentoo-core. I'll follow up with whatever response I receive.
3
4 ----- Forwarded message from Aron Griffis <agriffis@g.o> -----
5
6 From: Aron Griffis <agriffis@g.o>
7 Date: Sat, 20 Sep 2003 21:05:05 -0400
8 To: bug-coreutils@×××.org
9 Cc: gentoo-core@g.o
10 User-Agent: Mutt/1.5.4i
11 Subject: regarding head/tail syntax
12
13 Hello,
14
15 I'm a developer for the Gentoo Linux distribution. Right now we've been
16 doing some work on packages to make them work with head/tail from
17 coreutils-5.0, which as you know no longer support the -number syntax.
18 This led me to do some investigation and eventually write this email.
19
20 First, I checked out some of the current UNIX flavors out there. I
21 checked Tru64 UNIX 5.1B, Digital UNIX 4.0G, HP-UX B.11.11, Solaris 9,
22 AIX 4.3, and NetBSD 1.6. In all of them, -number is allowed. I
23 seriously doubt that any of the commercial UNIXes will ever disallow the
24 -number syntax because it would break too many customer scripts.
25
26 Second, I checked the Single UNIX Specification, Version 2, which still
27 allows the head -number syntax. It recommends that applications should
28 use the -n number option, since the obsolescent -number form may be
29 withdrawn in a future issue. However it does not make a recommendation
30 to implementors to remove the -number syntax.
31
32 Additionally, I noted that the Single UNIX Specification does not make
33 application recommendations for tail, although it refers to the older
34 syntax as obsolescent.
35
36 The pain I'm seeing in the Gentoo Linux distribution, along with the
37 above research, leads me to question the rationale behind removing the
38 -number syntax in the GNU coreutils. Personally, I don't see a
39 motivation for their removal, since the older syntax is unambiguous and
40 in heavy use by thousands of UNIX scripts already in existence. It
41 doesn't seem fruitful for the Gentoo developers (along with developers
42 of other distributions) to spend our time making this trivial change in
43 hundreds of packages, and trying to push the changes upstream.
44
45 Would the coreutils maintainers consider reinstating the older syntax to
46 save us the unnecessary toil? If that is not considered an option,
47 would you mind explaining the rationale behind making this change to the
48 head/tail programs? I checked the coreutils FAQ but didn't find
49 coverage of this topic.
50
51 Thanks for the work you put into these programs. We appreciate it.
52
53 Regards,
54 Aron
55
56 ----- End forwarded message -----
57
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