Cygwin: Open or Closed System? (was: two problems with cygwin's zip)

John Wiersba
Wed Jun 27 09:11:00 GMT 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Fred T. Hamster [ ]
> Sent: Wednesday, June 27, 2001 11:11 AM
> To:
> Subject: Re: Cygwin: Open or Closed System? (was: two problems with
> cygwin's zip)
> Christopher Faylor wrote:
> > I'm glad that you could use cygwin without understanding 
> the motivation
> > behind its existence.  I don't think that this should either be a
> > bragging point or an argument in favor of changing the way 
> that we've
> > been doing things.
>   i'm really sad that the tone of the cygwin mailing list seems to be 
> "users come here to be beaten".  blunt tools arguments aside, i can't 
> see the above as much beyond an insult.  insults don't prove 
> points either.

Fred, I have to admit that *sometimes* the tone of this mailing list is,
shall we say, less that cordial.

However, I and about a gazillion others are in complete agreement with cgf
and chuck wilson, etc on this issue.  

Where a ported unix tool makes use of a call into cygwin1.dll, windows
pathnames *are* understood.  Where a unix tool parses pathnames itself, then
all bets are off.  What you want is for zip, the ported unix program, to
handle windows pathnames.  The zip you're using under cygwin is just a quick
port to get it to cooperate with cygwin -- not to rewrite it's pathname
handling.  As Chuck Wilson said, if you want a tool which understands that
it might be working with windows pathnames, then *use a different tool*.  

I would venture that there are very few porters (mostly volunteers!) that
care about their ported tools understanding windows pathnames beyond what
cygwin1.dll already handles.  Cygwin exists to make it *easy* to port unix
tools and to that end, cygwin tries to make windows look like unix so that
the tool doesn't need to know that it's operating on windows.

As cgf said, "it is not feasible to port every single package to work with
MS-DOS pathnames."  You need to understand this *very important* point.  The
goal of cygwin is to *avoid* rewriting all unix tools to use windows

If you want to work that hard to make one tool (e.g. zip) understand windows
pathnames, then you're welcome to do it as long as you don't break it's or
other programs' proper understanding of unix pathnames.  But, all that
effort will only benefit a single tool.  Where you get the real payoff is if
you put in a lot of effort to improve cygwin1.dll -- the porting layer for
all the tools.  

If all you want is for zip to understand windows pathnames, just use pkzip
or a native port of zip or cygpath -u or /cygdrive/a/ as Chuck Wilson

-- John Wiersba

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