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Handling special characters (\/:*?"<>|) gracefully
- From: "Hicks,Mike" <Mike_Hicks at securecomputing dot com>
- To: <cygwin at cygwin dot com>
- Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 13:40:20 -0500
- Subject: Handling special characters (\/:*?"<>|) gracefully
There are a number of special characters that cannot be used in
filenames on the NTFS filesystem, this includes backslash (\), slash
(/), colon (:), asterisk (*), question mark (?), double-quote ("),
less- and greater-than (<>), and pipe (|). In contrast, most Unix
systems only prevent the use of slash characters in filenames
themselves, since that is used as the separator between levels in
I like to listen to music while at work, where I run Windows with
Cygwin. I periodically like to use 'scp' (secure copy, from the SSH
suite) to download music from my home computer, where I run Linux.
Some of my music files at home have special characters in them (in
particular, colon, question mark, and double-quote have appeared most
frequently). When I attempt to use scp to download a file with one of
these characters in the name, it appears that an open() or write()
function fails with the error "No such file or directory."
Is there a way to get scp to convert the filename to something that can
be written to disk? For example, either removing the characters from
the filename or converting them to underscores would work fine for me.
A system-wide option would be great, perhaps controlled by an
environment variable or two. Otherwise, each program that can write
files from foreign sources would have to be rewritten. It would also
be an improvement to see a more descriptive error than "No such file or
directory", though I suppose developers would be hesitant to expand
upon the standard list of error types.
As a workaround, I find it is easiest to create a zip file on my home
system with the files I want to transfer, then simply unzip it on my
work machine. Cygwin's 'unzip' utility appears to handle this
situation correctly and will convert unusable characters to
underscores. I've tried doing the same thing with a tar file, but
'tar' exhibits the same problems as 'scp' and will not write files that
originally had a special character in the name.
Apologies if there's already a good method for handling this situation
(other than renaming my original files, thanks). I did a requisite
Google search and some thumbing through man pages, but didn't come
across anything (though that doesn't mean there wasn't anything
Mike Hicks [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Associate Test Engineer
Secure Computing, St. Paul, MN
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