The /bin/true awards.
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 95 20:07:12 PDT
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: The /bin/true awards.
[In case you don't know what the Unix program "true" (aka "/bin/true") is
supposed to do: it's supposed to generate a successful return code. That's
all. /bin/true is commonly used in shell scripts that want to test whether a
command was successful or not. If you let such a script test the result of
/bin/true you can (probably) be sure it will find success. Needless to say, it
shouldn't take a lot of code to do that. On the NeXT computer the /bin/true
program is 7 bytes long. -psl]
Forwarded-by: bostic@CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Bostic)
Forwarded-by: firstname.lastname@example.org (Guy Harris)
From: email@example.com (Ron Natalie)
C. Titus Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:
: EVERY SINGLE DAMN TEXT FILE has 20 or more lines of text on top saying
: essentially that DEC owns the copyright on this file. Wonderful. Why?
It's pretty damn pervasive, and downright humorous at times. MIPS put a
copyright on the sample /etc/named.d that showed the Berkeley hosts in it.
My favorite has got to be /bin/true on many systems. On most systems this
is just an empty file, the size of the file is a good indication of the
pinheadedness of the corporate legal department.
Here are some data points:
SUN 4.1.3 63 bytes, #!/bin/sh + version number + exit 0
HP 9.05 37 bytes, #!/bin/sh + version number + exit 0
IBM 3.2.5 compiled program (no copyright or "what" strings)
DEC 3.2 compiled program (version 22.214.171.124)
SUN 5.2 308 bytes, AT&T Copyright, + /bin/sh + version number
SGI 5.1.3 314 bytes, AT&T Copyright + /bin/sh + 2 version numbers + tag
LINUX 1.1.18 328 bytes, #!, usage message, version and help options
My favorite is that of those who have a version number, 1.5 is the lowest
version that I've found. The AT&T versions of /bin/true, are the most
egregious, as they have the ratio between comment to executable lines is
the highest (8:0). Here is the copyright notice from /bin/true:
# Copyright (c) 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989 AT&T
# All Rights Reserved
# THIS IS UNPUBLISHED PROPRIETARY SOURCE CODE OF AT&T
# The copyright notice above does not evidence any
# actual or intended publication of such source code.
So here are the /bin/true awards:
tie DEC and IBM for having the compiled versions.
Greatest amount of creeping features:
the --help and --version flags on the LINUX /bin/true (at least
there is no embedded option to list out the GNU Manifesto).
Honerable mention, creeping features:
SGI's tag line that allows the /bin/true to fully function in the
windowing environment (never know when you want a button that does
Most egregious abuse of copyright:
ATT's 300 bytes of copyright on the empty file. (Joint winners:
SGI, MIPS, and SUN...)
Highest version of nothing:
HP, at version 64.1 of the file.
© 1995 Peter Langston