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Google Summer of Code - findutils project ideas?

From: James Youngman
Subject: Google Summer of Code - findutils project ideas?
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2006 15:00:07 +0100

The GNU Project is participating in the Google Sumer of Code
intiiative.  See http://code.google.com/soc/ for more details, if you
are not already familiar with it.

I'd like to use the opportunity to improve findutils.  We will, of
course, apply the same quality standards to contributions as we
normally do.  I've had a couple of ideas for projects:

1. Improvements to updatedb and locate (natirually, with accompanying
  (a) Enhance locate to understand the database format used by slocate
(it already understands two formats ans is dsigned in such a way that
a third should be reasonably easy)
  (b) Implement a replacement for the current updatedb shell script
which does pretty much the same thing but is less ugly.
  (c) This task may also include (b) - add updatedb functionality to
traverse the filesystem as root, preserving enough permission
information to allow us to provide the same functinality as slocate. 
Use the same database format as slocate unless there is a reason not
  (d)  Allow locate to pick up databases from mount points, so that
many NFS clients can share the same locate database which we build on
the server.  Adjust prefix when required.  Make sure the outcome is
sensible and secure if (c) is implemented.

Item 1(c) is actually a request by RMS.  1(a) and 1(b) seem to me to
be reasonable initial steps.

2. Improvements to find:
 (a) Add tests which allow [acm]time to be compared against a
specified timestamp, as opposed to the timestamp of a file (-newer) or
an age (-mtime).  Add relevant tests to the test suite and document.
 (b) Implement something like xargs --show-limits for find
 (c) Instrument find to allow us to improve the guesses that parser.c
makes for struct predicate->est_success_rate.  Measure the (lack of)
performance increase in find 4.3.x with optimisation turned on

3. Improvements to xargs:
 (a) Implement an optional feature in which xargs figures out how long
a command line it can pass to exec() without necessarily believing
ARG_MAX (because for example with the Linux kernel this can be an

I notice by the way that the TODO list in the findutils distribution
is now pretty out of date.

I'd appreciate any comments on these ideas, suggestions for items to
add to the list - or to be removed from it.


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