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Re: grep . /; echo $?

From: Julian Foad
Subject: Re: grep . /; echo $?
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2005 13:32:47 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.7.8) Gecko/20050511

Charles Levert wrote:

According to the grep(1p) POSIX "man page":
This does not restrict GNU grep from being more
informative about what happened by documenting
and using many exit statuses that are greater
than 1 (e.g., open() error vs. read() error),

Sure, but that's not relevant to this thread as far as I can see. This thread is about whether to exit with an error, not about how detailed any such error should be.

   If an input file is a directory, use ACTION to process it.  By
   default, ACTION is `read', which means that directories are read
   just as if they were ordinary files (some operating systems and
   filesystems disallow this, and will cause `grep' to print error
   messages for every directory or silently skip them).

I don't know: it all seems a bit arbitrary and inconsistent.  What's the
point of defaulting to ACTION="read" on systems that don't support it?

Consistency (for grep) across OSes.  If OSes
are inconsistent, that is another issue; grep
should merely use its exit status to document
what actually happened at a lower level on the
OS on which it happens to be running.

So let me be clear. You disagree with the current behaviour of silently skipping unreadable directories on some systems. The default should remain "directories=read", and Grep should (on all systems) report an error if it can't read a directory that it has been told to search in, and we should remove the words "or silently skip them" from the "info" quote above. Yes?

That is fine with me. I would call this "removing unnecessary complexity". I have a niggling feeling that somebody made a conscious effort to make it behave the way it does; but that's the way of things: if a special case was introduced for some reason but the reason wasn't documented, we can't be expected to preserve it indefinitely.

- Julian

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