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bug#9344: about the command of 'cat'

From: Bob Proulx
Subject: bug#9344: about the command of 'cat'
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2011 14:14:00 -0600
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.21 (2010-09-15)

tags 9344 + notabug

博高 wrote:
> Hello:
>   I am a user of ubuntu 10.04.2.While I am trying to use 'cat' to
> display a binary file.....Every letter on my display goes wrong....
>   yours GB from China

The 'cat' program copies each file to standard output concatenating
files.  It is working properly.  What you are seeing are the contents
of the files to the terminal.  Whether the terminal can display that
binary data or not is not a bug in cat.  Your data is almost certainly
in a character encoding that is not understood by the terminal.  You
could reconfigure the terminal or recode the file into a different
characer set.

Since the purpose of 'cat' is to concatenate files it must not modify
or filter the files in the process.  What goes in should come out.
The 'cat' program is typically used to assemble parts of files
together.  It is doing that correctly.

To browse files you should use a file browser such as 'more', 'less',
'most', or other programs that act as terminal pagers.  For binary
files it may be more useful to use 'od -tx1', 'hexdump', 'xxd' or
other program that converts binary data into text codes and then
piping the output to a pager.

It is historically traditional on Unix-like systems to use cat to
write short text files to the terminal.  However this is done with
full knowledge that it only behaves as desired on short text files
that do not contain terminal control sequences.  If they do then the
user running cat to write the file to the terminal must be prepared to
accept the consequences and be able to reset the terminal if needed.

Since this is not a bug in cat but instead a misuse of it I am going
to close the bug report.

Hope this helps,

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