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long_to_cons doesn't always return a cons

From: Alan Donovan
Subject: long_to_cons doesn't always return a cons
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 12:08:54 -0400 (EDT)

This bug report will be sent to the Free Software Foundation,
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Please write in English, because the Emacs maintainers do not have
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In GNU Emacs 21.4.1 (i486-pc-linux-gnu, X toolkit, Xaw3d scroll bars)
 of 2006-05-17 on rothera, modified by Debian
configured using `configure '--build=i486-linux-gnu' '--host=i486-linux-gnu' 
'--prefix=/usr' '--sharedstatedir=/var/lib' '--libexecdir=/usr/lib' 
'--localstatedir=/var/lib' '--infodir=/usr/share/info' 
'--mandir=/usr/share/man' '--with-pop=yes' '--with-x=yes' 
'--with-x-toolkit=athena' 'CFLAGS=-DDEBIAN -g -O2' 'build_alias=i486-linux-gnu' 
Important settings:
  value of $LC_ALL: nil
  value of $LC_COLLATE: C
  value of $LC_CTYPE: nil
  value of $LC_MESSAGES: nil
  value of $LC_MONETARY: C
  value of $LC_NUMERIC: C
  value of $LC_TIME: C
  value of $LANG: en_US
  locale-coding-system: iso-latin-1
  default-enable-multibyte-characters: t

Please describe exactly what actions triggered the bug
and the precise symptoms of the bug:

Summary: long_to_cons (in data.c) doesn't always return a cons, but it

The symptom of the problem: using dired to navigate a filesystem in
which some directories have mtime=1 sometimes fails with "Wrong type
argument: listp, 1".

Gory details: the filesystem returns 1 for the mtime of a particular
directory.  The function `dired-internal-noselect' calls
`visited-file-modtime' on the dired buffer for the directory, which
returns not a pair (as it claims) but a scalar number, in this case 1.
dired-internal-noselect then applies car to this value, causing the
type error.

visited-file-modtime claims to return a pair of integers (HI . LO)
containing the high and low 16-bit words of the time_t.  It also
claims that the format is the same as for `file-attributes', which
also mentions the pair of integers, though not the possibility of
returning a scalar.  (Incidentally, visited-file-modtime explicitly
checks for the case where a scalar zero is encountered--clearly, this
situation isn't uncommon--but not for a scalar 1 such as returned in
this obscure case.)

Looking at the C source for visited-file-modtime, and for
long_to_cons, which it calls, it's clear that both can return scalar
numbers, though the docstring for neither mentions this:

  DEFUN ("visited-file-modtime", Fvisited_file_modtime,
         Svisited_file_modtime, 0, 0, 0,
         doc: /* Return the current buffer's recorded visited file
         modification time.
  The value is a list of the form (HIGH LOW), like the time values
  that `file-attributes' returns.  If the current buffer has no recorded
  file modification time, this function returns 0.
  See Info node `(elisp)Modification Time' for more details.  */)
    Lisp_Object tcons;
    tcons = long_to_cons ((unsigned long) current_buffer->modtime);
    if (CONSP (tcons))
      return list2 (XCAR (tcons), XCDR (tcons));
    return tcons;

  /* Convert between long values and pairs of Lisp integers.  */

  long_to_cons (i)
       unsigned long i;
    unsigned long top = i >> 16;
    unsigned int bot = i & 0xFFFF;
    if (top == 0)
      return make_number (bot);
    if (top == (unsigned long)-1 >> 16)
      return Fcons (make_number (-1), make_number (bot));
    return Fcons (make_number (top), make_number (bot));

Furthermore, the info pages for file-attributes and
visited-file-modtime also don't mention the scalar case.

[Note that more recent versions of dired.el contain a workaround for
the underlynig problem--see

It seems like the right fix here would be to change long_to_cons to
meet its specification, by making it return a cons (0 . n) instead of
a scalar number n.


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