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bug#9742: touch option for existence?

From: Jim Meyering
Subject: bug#9742: touch option for existence?
Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2011 15:37:42 +0200

tags 9742 + notabug

Morty wrote:
> On Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 10:05:05AM +0100, Pádraig Brady wrote:
>> Note the above is easier to express in shell like:
>>   [ -e "$file" ] || touch "$file"
> Thanks, I'm familiar with it.  :)
>> But that is racy.  If you were using touch for locking purposes
> I'm using touch to make sure the file exists before an operation that
> will yield an error if it doesn't exist.  For example:

Thanks for the suggestion.

However, when there's such an easy and portable way to do what you want,

  touch_if_absent() { test -e "$1" || touch "$1"; }

it is counterproductive (and contrary to the "Unix way") to encumber
a tool like "touch" with an option to provide that functionality.
Besides, then you'd have to wait until a release including your
option makes it into whatever distribution you use (or build from source).
With the above, you have something that is portable and works now.

> resolv=/etc/resolv.conf
> touch $resolv
> ci -l -t-$resolv -m"check-in existing" $resolv
> grep -q domain $resolv || echo domain $domain >> $resolv
> ci -l -m"add domain $domain" $resolv
> The intent of code like the above is to make sure a certain file is in
> revision control and contains a certain setting.  If the file already
> is in revision control and has the setting, the code should do
> nothing.  But touch changes the mtime.  The problem could be fixed by
> slinging around ifs, but that's inelegant.

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