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Re: (emacs+unix): How to have a file-name containing slashes, angle-brac

From: Nikolaj Schumacher
Subject: Re: (emacs+unix): How to have a file-name containing slashes, angle-brackets, etc?
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 16:05:09 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.2.50 (darwin)

Xah <address@hidden> wrote:

> The issue in this thread we are currently debating is whether unix
> support file names with non-alphanumeric chars and non-ascii chars.
> I hope you agree the above is a good description of what we may be
> debating. The issue is not, for example: “whether you can use char x
> in a file name under a unix file system y”.

Specifically we're also looking at your claim that unix is worse at this
than Macs and Windows.  And we're looking at design issues, not
individual bugs.

> So, what does “support” mean here? Support doesn't mean whether a file
> system allow certain chars in question. Support means users of that
> system can use these chars in file name easily, as easy as any
> alphanumeric chars.

Fair enough.

> My argument is that, unix for much of its history up to perhaps mid
> 2000s when linux desktop becomes popular, does not support it.

If the desktops resolved the issue, so did a lot of other tools like mc
or Emacs+dired.  Are your doubts are based entirely on the command line
environment?  If so, the argument might as well end here, because I
don't consider an OS broken if one of its tools doesn't provide
convenient access to all its features.  Especially since that same tool
has the same issues in other environments.

> One practical way to see why it doesn't support it is because people
> simply don't use it.

Sorry, but that's a flawed argument.  If it wasn't supported, people
wouldn't be using it.  That doesn't make the converse true.

> Why unix doesn't support these chars? There are many factors. For one
> thing, unix shell tools is one bag of inconsistency that their quoting
> mechanism differs.

I don't understand what you are saying. Tools generally don't have
quoting mechanisms, only the shell does.  Most unix shells are
compatible with the Bourne shell and use the same (straightforward)
quoting mechanism.  Most people don't use more than one shell.

> Also, unix is typically used over telnet/ssh. Telnet doesn't not
> support non-ascii chars thru much of its history... and
> implementations vary wildly in quality... the bottom line is that if
> your file names contain odd chars, you'll have problem using telnet to
> work with them.

That's an excellent example on why those HOWTOs suggest not to use those
characters.  However, telnet is an internet protocol.  It is operating
system independent.  You can't single out unix, because it is
"typically" used with it.  This isn't an unix issue at all.

Additionally, if implementations suck, that's a bug.

> If you have experience in unix in say 1990s, you know as a fact that
> unix just don't support “odd” chars. (odd here means basically anyting
> other than [A-z0-9], “.”, “_”, “-”, “ ”)

That's what we call a Totschlagargument here.
You're essentially saying:  If you'd been there, you'd know I'm right.

I'm surprised you've added space to the list, though.  Yesterday that was
on the other side.

> then, as someone else mention, there's non-printable ascii issues.
> Unix allows a bell ring in file names! so thoughtful. Doing a file
> listing wing “bing” and “bong”! and if you inadventaly have ohter
> control chars in file name, expect your screen to be filled with
> majibake.

Yes, that's silly.  It's generally silly to have a bell character these
days.  But that is (was) a shell problem.  Emacs can handle those files,
for instance.

> this is quickly written... i hope it convinces you.

Honestly, I'm not sure what you're trying to convince me of.  That unix
design is flawed in this regard, or that implementations in the 1990s
mere broken.  I don't see how unixes are handling characters differently
than other operating systems, because you can't even give me one
example.  Additionally you stated that Macs don't have these problems.
However Macs are unix (even UNIX) machines.  So how would this alleged
design flaw not affect them?  Just because they are "typically" used
from a GUI?

> btw, who are you? what's your background anyway?

Is that supposed to affect my credibility?

Nikolaj Schumacher

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