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SubjectRe: Machine friendly format for /proc files

On Mon, 17 Feb 1997, Elwyn B Davies wrote:

[ Snip ]

> Unfortunately the format of the various /proc files is pretty much ad hoc and
> primarily intended to be human readable rather than machine readable. It is
> also essentially unsupported - it is not a specifically documented and
> maintained interface - so in some ways it is just as bad as fishing around in
> the kernel directly. The agent has to be aware of the format of each file and
> provide specific decoding for the format provided by the device driver writer.
> Accordingly, a minor change to the format can break the agent.
> We propose that it would be very convenient if a more machine friendly and
> standardised format was added to the /proc files. Something like the
> M****soft Windows initialisation file format is what we would be looking for
> (surely they didn't get something right ;-) with parameter/value pairs divided
> into sections plus comment facilities.

I like the idea of /proc fs standardization (if this isn't already the
case, I'm not knowledgable in this area). However, it is my opinion that
"machine readable" (i.e. NON human readable) duplication of the
information is unnecessary and would cause kernel bloat. I have talked
with many WinXXXX developers who are of the opinion that NON-human
readable stored data is for some reason exceedingly hard to
access/read/etc. I too, perhaps, was of this opinion long ago. However,
it simply isn't true. Yes, there is some _slight_ additional complexity
involved with translating human readable data into appropriate data
structures, but once you become comfortable with the algorithms to do so,
the task becomes relatively trivial. And the payoff for storing such
information in human readable form is *immense*. It aids debugging and
system administration greatly and it's completely platform independant
(endian, alignment, etc).

> Any views?
> Regards,
> Elwyn Davies
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Elwyn B Davies MA
> Senior Consultant
> Origin UK/TA Cambridge
> (Technical Automation Cell)
> Tel: +44 1223 423355
> Fax: +44 1223 420724
> Email:
> "The Folly is mostly mine"
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------

+ -- Finger: for my PGP public key -- +

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