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bug#23090: true and false not POSIX

From: Ruediger Meier
Subject: bug#23090: true and false not POSIX
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2016 17:38:27 +0100
User-agent: KMail/1.9.10

On Tuesday 22 March 2016, Eric Blake wrote:
> On 03/22/2016 06:43 AM, Ruediger Meier wrote:
> > Hi,
> >
> > Is there any good reason why coreutils true and false are not
> > POSIX?
> No, because coreutils' true and false ARE compliant with POSIX.
> > But coreutils true has --version and --help implemented. It needs
> >
> >> /dev/null redirection to work as expected.
> Not true.  POSIX says that behavior is unspecified for 'true --help'.
> Therefore, whatever coreutils does in that case does not violate

I've seen many existing scripts where people do something like this:

# ignore if not exist
type "$cmd" || cmd="true"
$cmd --something --we --want --to --do --if --possible

Similar use case would be to set cmd="echo debug whatever: ".

You can't decline that you implicitly accept such usage, otherwise
$ true --blabla
would not return true (without error message) and
$ false --help
would not return false.

These exit codes are not good GNU Coding Standards I guess. Also not 
non-getopt behavior like "echo string --help".

> 'true -- --help', on the other hand, must be silent - but coreutils
> obeys that rule.
> > Also these options are the reason why true.c is using many library
> > functions like setlocale, etc. The binary is bloated and the risk
> > that something goes wrong/crashs is much higher. I was looking for
> > a minimal and rock-solid true command to be used in scripts.
> If coreutils' true crashes due to wrong file permissions causing
> setlocale() to fail, your system is already going to have severe
> problems with other utilities.  Coreutils is complying with GNU
> Coding Standards at the same time as POSIX, and we do not feel that
> it is bloated for doing so.
> > IMO it is not worth to violate POSIX just because of cosmetical
> > reasons (--help/--version). Moreover since the true command usually
> > comes from the shell I guess that almost no person on earth ever
> > had seen your nice --help output anyways.
> On many GNU/Linux systems, 'man true' displays the coreutils' man
> page for true, which in turn was generated from 'true --help' output.
>  So a lot more people read it than you might think, even if they
> don't directly invoke it.

I'm sure that's possible to write manpages without --help ...

BTW this man page does not match to the most probably used built-in 
command. This confuses the reader even more and is IMO another argument 
why coreutils shouldn't have added --help options for these kind of 


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