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SubjectRe: [Patch] Support UTF-8 scripts
On Sunday 18 September 2005 06:58, "Martin v. Löwis" wrote:
> D. Hazelton wrote:
> > This is news to me. The last time I handed execve() a script as a
> > paramter I had errors returned from execve() -- I must admit that
> > this was not on my current system and I had assumed that the
> > behavior would be consistent.
> The kernel checks for #!<path>, and that <path> is an existing
> executable. If not, execve fails.
> > You are correct. It is fairly trivial. However my point still is
> > valid that the Kernel has the whole binfmt_misc system -- I will
> > admit that I have recently been shown numbers that show a
> > noticeable difference in the speed of a binary executed using the
> > binfmt_misc system and the binfmt_script system, but the fact
> > remains that offering handling for UTF8 and ASCII scripts
> > directly in the kernel will likely lead to at least one more
> > patch in which the the full Unicode standard is implemented.
> The problem with the binfmt_misc approach is that you need
> *another* execve call: with binfmt_misc, you register <utf8sig>#!,
> and a generic binary. Then, this generic binary will interpret the
> #! signature *again*, and invoke the proper interpreter. This will
> intepret the first line *yet again* (finding that it is a comment),
> and continue processing the file.

True. I had forgotten that for truly generic rules about handling the
#! there would be double the overhead for the sh_bang.

> However, this is not the real problem. The real problem is that
> the specific binfmt_misc "backend" would not be universally
> available, and then the same script would start on some systems,
> and break on others. This may be acceptable for large or specific
> applications (e.g. you have to setup the ibcs2 module to run
> SCO applications); it is not for scripts.

Again this is all too true. Doubly so with the problem of an initrd
that has 'init' as a script.

> Now, the "universally available" part would not apply right now,
> as only the most recent kernels would provide the feature. However,
> within a few years, the feature would be part of "Linux" - then
> people can start using it extensively.

This sounds to me like you're saying in a few years my suggestion of
using binfmt_misc would be tenable. Unfortunately, unless forced into
it, no distro would ever use it. As I now see it, binfmt_script is
pretty much a hard-coded hack that gives the system a bit more speed
for running scripts. And since I've thought about the consequences of
ripping it out after the posts yesterday - there is no clean way to
remove it and still have a large number of systems still function.

> > That, and my point remains that the kernel should know absolutely
> > nothing about how to execute a text file - the kernel should
> > return an error to the extent of "I don't know what to do with
> > this file" to the shell that tries to execute it, and the shell
> > can then check for the sh_bang. I do admit that this change would
> > break a lot of existing code, so I'll leave the argument to the
> > experts.
> The point is that it is not necessarily the shell which starts
> programs - the shell is but one creator of new processes. It is
> very common today that, say, httpd starts new programs - this
> mechanism is called CGI. Your approach was in use until 1985 or
> so, when Unix implementations started to support #! natively.
> This was done both for convenience and for performance: if
> programs would always use system(3) to start new processes,
> there would always be a shell that execs the eventual
> interpreter.

True. In some cases, though, system(3) is really unusable - like you
mentioned, httpd often starts new processes. Since daemons don't,
technically, run on top of a shell, having one use system(3) to start
a new process would add a lot of unnecessary overhead.

> I'm not sure, but I believe that most current shells have
> "forgotten" how to do the #! magic, since, by now, "traditionally"
> this is a kernel responsibility.

Not true. Bash, at least, still handles the sh_bang. (Provable by
using it to call a perl script that doesn't have the exec bit set.
This worked for me just a week ago :)

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