This Space for Rent

GNU Tentacleware

If I was king of the world, one of my absolute decrees would be that if you write an awk clone with *extra!* *added!* *features!*, you would not be able to call it awk. You could call it tentacleware-awk, if you wanted, or even the gagging penguin variant (gawk!), but not awk. That way, when someone wanted to use the tentacleware features, they'd have to call the program by its proper name.

Otherwise you'd end up with something like the r*dh*t mkinitrd program, which decided to start gagging on me this week because, for some bizarre reason, GNU awk (which was, of course, symlinked to awk) had decided that it wasn't going to accept the stupid gnu extensions when trying to pick apart a module list. If I ran mkinitrd by hand, everything was happy, but when it was run from deep inside a homemade "upgrade the system from a 2.4 kernel to a 2.6 kernel" script, it decided that it wouldn't be prudent to use those gnu extensions.

Snarl. If there's one thing worse than tentacleware (and you thought that Microsoft was the only one who did that sort of stuff, eh? Ho ho ho), it's tentacleware that decides pretty much at random where it's going to process the tentacleware extensions.

So I have to repackage mkinitrd, with a little patch to rename all calls to awk into calls to gawk.

And people wonder why I go to such trouble to keep GNUware out of Mastodon.


It sounds suspiciously like Gnu finally got a clue and decided that if gawk is invoked as awk, it should disable the Gnu extensions and act like a real awk.

It also sounds like RedHat has made their usual mistake - they also assume that anything invoked as /bin/sh has all the Bash extensions in place, even though they give the option of installing a smaller /bin/sh that doesn’t have all the extensions.

In development, we used to call this the “All the world’s a Vax” syndrome.

Paul Tomblin Thu May 3 04:15:53 2007

You’d think so, but, no, if I invoke mkinitrd from the command line, the tentacles are fully present and accounted for. With gnuware, it’s not so much that all the world’s a vax, but it’s that all the world’s the vax that used to sit in the northwest corner of the MIT comp sci lab, two weeks after they switched it from VMS to 3BSD.

David Parsons Thu May 3 08:12:34 2007

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