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Re: bash uses tmp files for inter-process communication instead of pipes

From: Linda Walsh
Subject: Re: bash uses tmp files for inter-process communication instead of pipes?
Date: Mon, 06 Oct 2014 14:00:47 -0700
User-agent: Thunderbird

Greg Wooledge wrote:
On Mon, Oct 06, 2014 at 12:38:21PM -0700, Linda Walsh wrote:
According to Chet , only way to do a multi-var assignment in bash is

read a b c d  <<<$(echo address@hidden)

The redundant $(echo...) there is pretty bizarre.  Then again, that
whole command is strange.  You have a nice friendly array and you are
assigning the first 3 elements to 3 different scalar variables.  Why?
(The fourth scalar is picking up the remainder, so I assume it's the
rubbish bin.)

Why not simply use the array elements?

Forcing a simple assignment into using a tmp file seems Machiavellian --
as it does exactly the thing the user is trying to avoid through
unexpected means.

You are working in a severely constrained environment.
That isn't the problem:  the assignment using a tmp file is:
strace -p 48785 -ff
Process 48785 attached
read(0, "\r", 1)                        = 1
write(2, "\n", 1)                       = 1
socket(PF_NETLINK, SOCK_RAW, 9)         = 3
sendmsg(3, {msg_name(12)={sa_family=AF_NETLINK, pid=0, groups=00000000}, msg_iov(2)=[{"*\0\0\0d\4\1\0\0\0\0\0\0\0\0\0", 16}, {"read a b c d <<<address@hidden", 26}], msg_controllen=0, msg_flags=0}, 0) = 42
close(3)                                = 0
Um... it used a socket.. to transfer it, then it uses a tmp file on top
of that?!  :

rt_sigaction(SIGINT, {0x4320b1, [], SA_RESTORER|SA_RESTART, 0x30020358d0}, {0x4320b1, [], SA_RESTORER|SA_RESTART, 0x30020358d0}, 8) = 0
open("/tmp/sh-thd-110678907923", O_WRONLY|O_CREAT|O_EXCL|O_TRUNC, 0600) = 3
write(3, "one two three four", 18)      = 18
write(3, "\n", 1)                       = 1
open("/tmp/sh-thd-110678907923", O_RDONLY) = 4
close(3)                                = 0
unlink("/tmp/sh-thd-110678907923")      = 0
fcntl(0, F_GETFD)                       = 0
fcntl(0, F_DUPFD, 10)                   = 10
fcntl(0, F_GETFD)                       = 0
fcntl(10, F_SETFD, FD_CLOEXEC)          = 0
dup2(4, 0)                              = 0
close(4)                                = 0
ioctl(0, SNDCTL_TMR_TIMEBASE or SNDRV_TIMER_IOCTL_NEXT_DEVICE or TCGETS, 0x7fff85627820) = -1 ENOTTY (Inappropriate ioctl for device)
lseek(0, 0, SEEK_CUR)                   = 0
read(0, "one two three four\n", 128)    = 19
dup2(10, 0)                             = 0
fcntl(10, F_GETFD)                      = 0x1 (flags FD_CLOEXEC)
close(10)                               = 0

Why in gods name would it use a socket (still of arguable overhead, when
it could be done in a local lib), but THEN it duplicates the i/o in a file?

Thus, you need
to adapt your code to that environment.  This may (often will) mean
you must forsake your usual practices, and fall back to simpler
        The above is under a normal environment.  It's still broken.

Maybe the best solution here is to move your script to a different part
of the boot sequence.  If you run it after all the local file systems
have been mounted, then you should be able to create temporary files,
which in turns means << and <<< become available, should you need them.
        Theoretically, they ARE mounted.... What I think may be happening
is that $TMP is not set so it is trying to open the tmp dir in:

"//sh-thd-183928392381" -- a network address.

Elegance must be the first sacrifice upon the altar, here.
        Correctness before elegance.  1), use memory before OS services.
2) use in-memory services before file services, 3) Don't use uninitialized
variables (TMP) -- verify that they are sane values before usage.
4) don't use network for tmp when /tmp or /var/tmp would have worked just

So why would someone use a tmp file to do an assignment.

It has nothing to do with assignments.  Temp files are how here documents
(and their cousin here strings) are implemented.  A here document is a
redirection of standard input.  A redirection *from a file*
 This type of redirection instructs the shell to  read  input  from  the
       current source until a line containing only delimiter (with no trailing
       blanks) is seen.  All of the lines read up to that point are then  used
       as the standard input for a command.

"The current source" -- can be anything that input can be
redirected from -- including memory.

in fact,
albeit a file that is created on the fly for you by the shell.
Gratuitous expectation of slow resources...  Non-conservation
of resources, not for the user, but for itself.

echo "$a"
no tmp files used, but it does a file read on foo.

-- the above uses no tmp files.

b=$(echo "$a")
THAT uses no tmp files.


uses a tmp file.

That's ridiculously lame.

So why would a temp file be used?

Historical reasons, and because many processes will expect standard input
to have random access capabilities (at least the ability to rewind via
lseek).  Since bash has no idea what program is going to be reading the
here document, why take chances?
        How could you use a seek in the middle of a HERE doc

Not only that, it's just wrong.    /dev/stdin most often comes from
a tty which is not random access.

Creating a tmp file to do an assignment, I assert is a bug.

You are not *just* doing an assignment.  You are doing a redirection.
Furthermore, you have not even demosntrated the actual reason for the
here document yet.

cmd1 | cmd2 -- that hasn't used tmp files on modern *nix systems for
probably 20 years or more (I think DOS was the last shell I knew that used
tmp files...)

Correct.  Pipelines do not use temp files.

so why would "cmd2 < <(cmd1 [|])" not use the same paradigm -- worse, is

Process substitution uses either a named pipe, or a /dev/fd/* file system
entry, or a temp file, depending on the platform.
        I didn't ask *what*  -- I asked *why*.
Why is  different mechanism used for the same function.

you are taking output of 1 process and redirecting it's output into the input
of another... They are the same.

I don't know which one your *real* script is using, so it's hard to
advise you.
How much of the original do you want?... wait....... um...
But the point it it should already work... I think it is trying to read
from the network.

shopt expand_aliases
alias dcl=declare         sub=function
alias int=dcl\ -i         map=dcl\ -A       hash=dcl\ -A    array=dcl\ -a
alias lower=dcl\ -l       upper=dcl\ -u     string=dcl      my=dcl
sub get_net_IFnames_hwaddrs () {        # get names + addrs from /sys
  array pseudo_devs=(br bond ifb team)
  string pseudo_RE="^+(address@hidden)$"
  pseudo_RE=${pseudo_RE// /|}
  string netdev_pat="+([_0-9a-z])+([0-9])"
  ( cd "$sysnet" &&
    for nm in $( printf "%s\n" $netdev_pat | grep -Pv "$pseudo_RE"); do
      echo "$nm" "$(<$nm/address)"
    done )

map act_hw2if                           #actual values (to be read in)
map act_if2hw
map XIF                                 #tmp array to hold exchanged IF's

sub read_actuals () {                   # parse output stream from above
  my ifname hwaddr
  while read ifname hwaddr; do
  done <<<"$(get_net_IFnames_hwaddrs)"

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