Re: Dashhh

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Hi Stefano,

thank you for your response, please find my comments inline ...

Am 17.11.11 18:21, schrieb Stefano Lattarini:
Hello everybody.  Hope it's OK if I chime in for a couple of tangential
issues... (I've no comments on the patch proper, as my knowledge of the
dash internals is zero).
OK, anyway, all comments are appreciated!

On Thursday 17 November 2011, Heiko Gerstung wrote:
{...} ressources.

In the course of porting ~200 shell scripts (small three liners and
a few big guys) from bash to dash, I ran into a few issues (surprise

1. The usual "[[" and "==" stuff (pretty easy to change, thank
    you sed)
2. shift returns with a critical error when no arguments are left
    (no really good solution found)
3. $[] arithmetic stuff not working (OK, worked around that with bc)

You might instead use the shell built-in construct `$(( ))', which is
mandated by POSIX, and which dash supports as well:

   $ echo $((1 + 2 * 3))

(In fact, I'm pretty sure the the use of `$[]' for arithmetic substitution
has been deprecated in bash for a looong time now).
Good point, I already forgot about that. I replaced the few occurences of $[] with an (ugly) bc workaround, and using $((x)) is definitely the best solution. Thanks!

4. The bash FUNCNAME variable was very valuable for debugging purposes
and is nonexistent in dash

Now, since I solved point 1 and 3 by changing my code, all I did is creating
a very small patch to deal with point 2 and, since it is also not too
complicated, I added patches to deal with point 1 and 4 as well.

As for point (1), I'm quite opposed to "solving it", since the change
you are proposing would reduce the usefulness of dash as a testbed to
detect bashisms in shell scripts.
Well, although I agree that it would reduce the usefulness of dash as a testbed for bashisms, I would not see that this is dash's primary task. I tried to find a nice workaround for this, but did not get very far (and patching dash was much easier and solved my problem instantly).

Also (and more importantly), if I'm not mistaken, `[[' as supported by
bash and the Korn shells is not a mere builtin, but rather a "syntactical
contruct", in that the shell parses and interpreters stuff enclosed into
`[[ ... ]]'  differently:

  ## Quoting rules are different ##

  $ a="x y"; [[ -n $a ]]&&  echo ok
  $ a="x y"; [ -n $a ]&&  echo ok
  bash: [: x: binary operator expected
  # Do this in an empty directory.
  $ touch foo
  $ a='*'; [ $a = foo ]&&  echo ok
  $ a='*'; [[ $a = "*" ]]&&  echo ok

  ## Operators and redirections: ">" is "greater than" in   ##
  ## `[[', but is the usual redirection operator inside `[' ##

  # Do this in an empty directory.
  $ [[ 1>  2 ]]; echo status = $?; ls -l
  status = 1
  total 0
  $ [ 1>  2 ]; echo $?; ls -l
  status = 0
  total 0
  -rw-r--r-- 1 stefano stefano 0 Nov 17 18:13 2
I see, another good point! I personally did not run into the differences and used [[ and [ as aliases for each other. But I agree that in the light of the different behavior of the two I would prefer to either declare [[ a syntax error (like dash does) or to implement the different behavior. Will remove that!
I call this the dashhh (dash: Heiko's Hack) and although I browsed
the mailing list archives and found out that the shift issue has not
been accepted as a worthwhile change for dash and people are still
discussing about "==", I decided that I at least want to show you my

If anyone wants to try this: Please remember that this of course is no
longer dash (it is dashhh).

I can understand the reasoning behind the relucatance of the dash crew
to apply any of those changes to the main codebase.
For me it is not so important that dash is fully POSIX compliant

But for many people, this is VERY important!
I know and I never wanted to question that. That's why I pointed out that for me it is not so important. I need a fast, powerful and ressource-friendly non-interactive shell for my scripts and dash is really kicking ass in this respect.

(Still, it seems to me that your proposed changes would leave dash
POSIX-compliant, so there's no need to venture into a discussion
of the merits of POSIX-compatibility).
OK. Although I always thought that the POSIX standard defines a minimum feature set that should be shared among all shells out there. Nevertheless every shell has additions to POSIX and it has them for a reason. Someone needs the additional functions and features and chooses that specific shell for her/his task. I agree that a lot of shell scripts benefit a lot from relying on the fact that /bin/sh (whereever that points to on a system) provides that standardized minimum feature set. Great for installation scripts and for stuff that needs to run on a number of different platforms and there is no common set of shells for all of those platforms. And, of course, you never know if your chosen shell is installed on every single system that may be required to run your scripts on. Tons of good reasons for a POSIX compliant shell. But: Being stricly POSIX compliant does not prevent you from offering additions and enhancements for script authors who do not face one of the above described situations. I am one of them, so for me and my special set of applications, POSIX compliance is not required. I still do not see any other shell that offers the speed of dash while sharing its small footprint.

Best Regards,
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