Fun_People Archive
7 Apr
The /bin/true awards.

Date: Fri,  7 Apr 95 20:07:12 PDT
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
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: (Guy Harris)
From: (Ron Natalie)

C. Titus Brown ( 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
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

	#       The copyright notice above does not evidence any
	#       actual or intended publication of such source code.

So here are the /bin/true awards:

Most nonportable:
	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 []