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Re: thread about Directory names containing spaces and GDB

On 1 Aug 2002 at 11:32, John Vincent wrote:

> When a package is ported, if it originally didn't tolerate
> file names with spaces, than it won't after porting. If you
> use a ported program, and you want it to tolerate spaces, you
> should talk to the program maintaners, not the cygwin porter
> (unless they happen to be the same). This would be considered
> off-topic on the cygwin list.

Would it be? Problems involving spacey paths don't tend to occur on 
other comparable systems, only Cygwin. (DJGPP seems to handle them 
OK, which is especially interesting since it's also got ported unix 
tools...) Also, must it require changing every program that is 
intolerant? There may be a way to change the cygwin.dll to magically 
fix the problem for all programs linked against it. There might not 
be, but it's worth investigating. If the emulation layer can deal 
with one more peculiarity specific to the host environment it becomes 
that much better.

> Unix/Linux/POSIX allows spaces in file names just like windows,
> some programs tolerate them, some don't. This used to be a big
> issue, but in general, modern binaries don't have this problem,
> and it's only a problem in some scripts.

Scripts that don't defensively quote arguments, generally. I'd say if 
everyone uses lots of spacey paths with Cygwin it might lead to a lot 
of obscure bugs getting fixed some of which might have other side 
effects :)

> There's no guarantee that the next version will be as useful
> to you as the last.

There's no guarantee of anything. Open source software isn't really 
less trustworthy or reliable than commercial software. In fact it's 
more so. Commercial vendors who guarantee anything are actually not 
being honest.

> Very often this is a reference to information elsewhere...

Fine by me. References in the form of URLs or /usr/doc filenames or 
man page names are useful. References of a vague sort that would 
require spending half an hour trying various vague queries in a 
search engine are not very useful and less welcome consequently. Such 
searches also needlessly duplicate work -- someone has to search for 
and find something that someone else already had found once, and had 
an exact address for.

> 2. because it keeps the volume of discussions on this list lower. This
> is simply a practical expedient, not a philosophical poition.

Vague references won't succeed here. They just prompt questions 
asking for something more specific.

Flamewars also waste bandwidth, needless to say.

> 4. because they believe that they are showing the questioner how to
> find answers to this type of question in general. Some questioners
> will find this patronising, while others will find it generally useful.

A URL to a specific reference I don't find patronizing. A suggestion 
to search Google I don't find useful or patronizing. A suggestion 
that I'm asking the wrong questions, should know better, am stupid 
for configuring whatever whatever way, or anything to that effect I 
don't find useful but do find patronizing.

Responses that make the original poster wrong in some way are bad for 
two reasons: one, they don't usually contain useful suggestions, and 
when they do their tone makes the original poster resistant to those 
suggestions; two, they force the original poster to respond in their 
own defense, dragging them unavoidably into an argument, and this 
tends to continue and waste a lot of bandwidth.

> Sometimes the reference to information elsewhere is not sufficient
> to answer the questions in the questioners mind, note that like
> the software itself, the answers are *free* with no guarantees of
> helpfulness or perspicasity.

Surely it's possible for someone to guarantee that their response is 
courteous? Even if not useful?

Anyway, if I get a specific reference and it doesn't satisfy me I 
just ask for more info. If I'm then told to reread the original 
reference because "it should have been enough" or whyever, that's not 
useful and I might get annoyed. Pointing me to references won't 
produce complaints, unless they're not free. Telling me to use a 
reference without pointing me to it (unless it's obvious where it is, 
like with a man page) or being insulting or needlessly vague -- those 
provoke complaints. And I don't see why the difference seems too 
subtle for some people to grasp...

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