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Re: portability of xargs

From: Roman Neuhauser
Subject: Re: portability of xargs
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2022 11:00:41 +0100

# / 2022-02-14 19:53:17 -0800:
> On 2/14/22 19:45, Mike Frysinger wrote:
> > how portable is xargs ?
> It can be a porting problem, unfortunately. There are several corner 
> cases that various implementations don't get right. I expect this is why 
> the GNU Coding Standards exclude xargs from the list of programs that 
> 'configure' and Makefile rules can use.

It seems that current circumstances notwithstanding,
this project has no way to recognize when a workaround
is no longer necessary.  In other words, it may well be
past many such transitions already.  I'm reminded of
the herd of monkeys beating up any one of them who reached
for the banana even though none of them knew what was wrong
with it.

Back when I was involved with FreeBSD ports (~ 4.7 - 6.2),
the extreme[*] complexity of autotools was the greater
hindrance to porting -- actual incompatibilities of the
underlying environment were a distant second (IMO - I speak
for now one else).

[*] It was disproportional to the achievements - certainly,
given the complexity present in the tools and leaking into
their interfaces, building and installing autotools-using
code shouldn't have required so much constant effort.

I didn't mean to whine here, the two paragraps above are
meant as an anecdote in support of another take on the

I've only seen the last twenty years, and am an external
observer to anything FSF or GNU, but it seems to me that:

* the OS ecosystem has fewer species than it had when
  autotools were conceived
* it would be perfectly fine for autotools maintainers
  to say "if you insist on running SunOS 2, HPUX 10 or
  similar, feel free to put in the work or the funds"
* same for minority/fringe FOSS environments: the
  message could and IMO should be "you can deviate if
  you take on the cost"

These things came across my mind when I read the thread,
I'm probably missing or a vital angle or two, or maybe
just valuing them differently.

Thanks for reading and back to lurking,


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