grep-2.5.4

Mike McCarty Mike.McCarty at sbcglobal.net
Mon Mar 15 20:30:24 PDT 2010


Bruce Dubbs wrote:
> stosss wrote:
> 
>> There are known test failures in the fmbtest.sh tests. The "|| true"
>> construct is used to avoid automated build scripts failing due to the
>> test failures. A good run will show 1 failure from 14 tests, although
>> the test failure will detail 2 failed sub-tests.
> 
> That's true, but I don't like it.  We may have little choice though.
> 
> https://savannah.gnu.org/bugs/?14472  Open  2008
> https://savannah.gnu.org/bugs/?29117  Open  2010
> 
> The developers don't seem very responsive to the bug list.  They have 38 
> bugs dating back to 2005.  The grep mailing list seems more active.

Unfortunately, the grep "product" has notoriously been bad. It has
a long history of unreliable operation. The development "team" has
focussed on making it fast, rather than making it reliable. In about
1990, I abandoned the FSF grep, and wrote my own, simpler but reliable,
grep, based on source I found from about 1980 or so, and had ported
to run with MSDOS. Since coming to Linux, I've used the FSF grep,
but with a somewhat jaded eye.

At one time, when I used their grep on a VAX, we found it unusable,
and wanted to "fix it". The routine we tracked the problem down to
had a McCabe cyclomatic complexity 'way over 1000. The upper limit
for a routine which is maintainable is considered to be about 24
or so. It had deeply nested switch() statements, with gotos which
went between diffferent levels of separately nested switch()
statements. It was unbelievable spaghetti. That was when I suggested
to the fellow having the problem to use my simpler, but apparently
correct, grep. It quickly found the records he was looking for, which
the FSF version could not.

Since that time, the FSF grep has supposedly been rewritten, so I
can't specifically address it. However, if it is anything at all
like it's predecessor, it is not, and cannot be, maintained.

Mike
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