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bug#24680: Documentation / Behavior of open-pipe* with stderr

From: Jeff Mickey
Subject: bug#24680: Documentation / Behavior of open-pipe* with stderr
Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2016 16:18:13 -0700


So, I like to build up programs by tieing together a few different
programs, and then replacing parts where I reimplement features in
simpler ways.

Currently, I have a piece of guile code that calls out to dd, and I
wanted to capture the stderr and print it if dd failed to run
successfully. If it ran successfully, I just wanted to swallow it.

I read the following from the guile Info page 7.2.10 Pipes under the
procedure documentation for open-pipe*:

  For an input pipe, the child’s standard output is the pipe and
  standard input is inherited from ‘current-input-port’.  For an
  output pipe, the child’s standard input is the pipe and standard
  output is inherited from ‘current-output-port’.  In all cases cases
  the child’s standard error is inherited from ‘current-error-port’
  (*note Default Ports::).

So, in my assumption, I should be able to use parameterize on
current-error-port, and set it to a string port. Here is some test code:

  (use-modules (ice-9 popen))
  (define (port-copy dst src)
    (let ((c (read-char src)))
      (if (eof-object? c)
        (begin (write-char c dst)
               (port-copy dst src)))))
  (define (print-outs one two)
    (format #t "what was stored in stdout:~%~a~%<eond of os>~%" 
(get-output-string os))
    (format #t "what was stored in stderr:~%~a~%<eond of es>~%" 
(get-output-string es)))
  (let ((os (open-output-string))
        (es (open-output-string)))
    (parameterize ((current-error-port es))
      (let ((rp (open-pipe* OPEN_BOTH "logger" "-s" "help me i'm stderr")))
        (port-copy os rp)
        (status:exit-val (close-pipe rp))))
    (print-outs os es))
  (let ((os (open-output-string))
        (es (open-output-string)))
    (parameterize ((current-error-port es))
      (let ((rp (open-pipe* OPEN_BOTH "echo" "help me i'm stdout")))
        (port-copy os rp)
        (status:exit-val (close-pipe rp))))
    (print-outs os es))

This, notably, is unable to print stderr. I tried changing the
parameterize to a call to set-current-error-port, but this didn't work
either, same results where it's blank.

So, clearly, something is wrong.

Then I looked at the source of posix.c & strports.c & fports.h, and it
looks like string ports cannot be used for open-pipe*. 6.14.8 Default
Ports for Input, Output and Errors do not call this out.

I haven't figured out how to fix it yet, but I think it'd be great if
string/byte ports could be used everywhere, including for
stdout/stdin. Seems like we could check if the in/out/error ports are
fd's or not like currently (line 1388 of posix.c) but in the else
case set up some type of thread (or forked process) that goes off and
copies whatever comes out of the fd into a byte or string port.

I don't know enough about the guile C implementation to make more
concrete suggestions.

Thanks in advance. At the least, I feel like the documentation for
open-pipe* and the Default Ports could be improved significantly.

  //  codemac

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