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Re: bin/44246: enhance mv to work better with xargs
The following reply was made to PR bin/44246; it has been noted by GNATS.
From: Mouse <mouse%Rodents-Montreal.ORG@localhost>
Subject: Re: bin/44246: enhance mv to work better with xargs
Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2013 23:46:24 -0500 (EST)
> I've taken a look at bin/44246 and attempted to implement an
> enhancement to resolve the PR.
IMO this is not a defect in mv, but a defect in xargs.
mv is (even "mv and cp and ln are") hardly the only case(s) where more
than just appending arguments to a command would be useful.
With my xargs, this would be, eg, "ls -1 | xargs -kX mv X newdir".
Here's the comment header describing the functionality. I don't expect
NetBSD would want it directly, if only because I doubt NetBSD agrees
with me that the standard-specified xargs behaviour with respect to
whitespace and quoting is a bug or at best a misfeature. But perhaps
something along the lines of -k and -r could be adopted to fix this
once, at the source of the problem, rather than working around it in a
few of the commonest cases by kludging up other tools. (For example,
mv -x doesn't permit this, which is relatively common for me:
ls .. | grep something | xargs -kX mv ../X .
In this case it's not all that hard to adapt by running a similar
command in .., but that's a workaround for this case, not a general
Of course, NetBSD is also welcome to the whole thing. I just don't
expect that to be desired; I can easily make it available if it is.
Here's that comment header.
* xargs - accumulate arguments for a program
* xargs reads its standard input and accumulates the strings it gets.
* When it has enough, either total length or number of strings, it
* executes the program named as its argument. This is useful for
* using programs like rm in conjunction with find:
* find / -name \*.CKP -print | xargs rm -f
* Any options to xargs must of course occur before the name of the
* command xargs is to execute. The first argument not beginning with
* a - sign (or being an argument to a flag) indicates the beginning
* of the command.
* The options are:
* -l causes xargs to log the command it is about to execute
* to stderr just before executing it.
* -n don't execute the commands. This is pretty useless
* except in conjunction with -l.
* -N<n> tells xargs to fork and exec as soon as it has <n>
* arguments accumulated (not counting any on the xargs
* command line). It may still fork/exec earlier than
* this. (In the presence of -n, it doesn't actually
* fork and exec.)
* -0 causes xargs to break its input into arguments on NULs
* rather than newlines.
* -f forces xargs to execute the command at least once, with
* no arguments if necessary.
* -p<n> causes xargs to execute <n> commands in parallel.
* Normally, once a command is started no further
* commands are run until it exits. With this option,
* xargs does not block until <n> commands are running,
* and, as soon as any one of them exits, xargs unblocks.
* -k<str> indicates that instead of taking the given command and
* arguments and appending the arguments derived from
* the input, xargs should modify and replicate certain
* arguments. Any argument containing <str> will be
* replicated, once per string, as in
* .... | xargs -kX mv dir1/X dir2
* which will run commands like
* mv dir1/foo dir1/bar dir1/blee dir2
* If -k is not used, the effect is as if it were used
* with a string that does not otherwise occur, with one
* extra trailing argument, equal to that string, on the
* indicates that certain argument(s) (or portions
* thereof) to the command are to be replicated. If
* <s1> appears as an argument to the command, all
* arguments between that and the next argument equal to
* <s2> (or the last argument, if no argument equals
* <s2>) are replicated, appearing once per string.
* (Normally, -k will be used as well, and at least one
* of the replicated arguments will include the -k
* string, but this does not have to be so.) If an
* argument to the command contains but is not equal to
* <s1>, then part of that argument is replicated.
* Specifically, everything from immediately after the
* <s1>, up to but not including the next <s2> (or the
* end of the argument if there is no following <s2>),
* is replicated. If -k is used and the replicated
* portion contains the -k string, each copy will have
* the -k string replaced as appropriate. For example,
* xargs -kXX -r/A/B cmd mAjB blivet A -q XX -f mXX B -t
* will run commands like
* cmd mjjj blivet -q foo -f mfoo -q bar -f mbar -q blee
-f mblee -t
* xargs -kXX -r/A/B cmd -t mAjXXkB
* will run commands like
* cmd -t mjfookjbarkjbleek
* Neither <s1> nor <s2> may be zero-length; it is also
* an error for the second <c> to be missing.
* If -k is used, any argument containing the -k string but not under
* the influence of -r (either because -r is not given or because the
* argument is not bracketed appropriately) will nevertheless be
* If -k is used with a string that can overlap itself (ie, it has a
* proper suffix that is also a proper prefix), only nonoverlapping
* occurrences found in a simple left-to-right scan are used. Thus,
* for example, with -kXX, an argument 1XXXX2 will generate arguments
* such as 1foofoo2 and 1barbar2, even though in a sense there are
* *three* occurrences of XX in 1XXXX2.
* In arguments that are being repeated due to -r, no -r strings are
* recognized except for the argument that is equal to the second
* string; in particular, arguments that contain but are not equal to
* the -r string(s) are not noticed.
* When the -k and -r strings are such that they can overlap, and an
* argument contains overlapping instances, which one is recongized is
* It is an error for an argument to both contain but be different from
* the first -r string and also contain the -k string in a position
* where it is not being repeated due to -r.
* Unlike the "standard" System V xargs, this one doesn't consider a line
* containing whitespace as more than one argument. (I consider this a bug
* in the SV xargs; the absence of a flag to fix it is definitely a
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