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Re: Spaces in pathnames: forbidden, supported or not tested ?

From: Ralf Wildenhues
Subject: Re: Spaces in pathnames: forbidden, supported or not tested ?
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 20:58:35 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.9i

Hi Eric,

* Eric PAIRE wrote on Mon, Aug 29, 2005 at 03:31:06PM CEST:
> I am currently using 'configure' generated file under MinGW. On Windows, 
> Msys and MinGW have been installed in 'Program Files' (Yes, there is an 
> The 'gcc -print-prog-name-ld' command in AC_PROG_LD returns a complete 
> Windows path which contains a space, then the execution of $LD in 
> AC_PROG_LD_GNU fails, and my LD is not detected as a GNU ld, which has 
> some unwanted consequences...

I can imagine..

> I would like to get your 
> comments on that, and particularly if paths with spaces in them are 
> supported, or if it is not tested, or if this should be forbidden. In 
> the later case, I guess that this should be clearly stated somewhere 
> (and if it is, I have not been able to find it, sorry).

I can give you an unofficial statement: It's a mess.  It might work in
some cases, but in most it'll break eventually.

Autotools started thinking about path names with spaces only very much
in an afterthought, long after they were established.  One reason is
because on classic unixy systems, they are very rarely used.  Another is
the very common use of white space as command line separator by the
common unix shells.

Recently, a patch has been posted to make Libtool be able to use
spaces in their path names in many places (not the one you're seeing, I
believe).  I hated the fact that I had to reject it because it breaks
compatibility.  I've been thinking ever since how we could introduce
spaces in variables which contain file lists.

In fact, I'm still convinced that it *can* be made to work.  It's just a
huge amount of work to do it right, and pretty tricky at times[1].  If
anyone wants to work on this for Libtool-3.0 (sic), I'm happy to discuss
possible plans that would not break compatibility with every other
version and autotool we have.

For now, though, it's by far easier if you did not use paths with
spaces, or some sort of symlinking mechanism to work around them.

Cheers, and sorry,

[1] one trick would be to use TAB as list separator and juggle with
IFS .. would make for *really* unreadable code..

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