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Re: du, kilobytes

From: Dag Øien
Subject: Re: du, kilobytes
Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 11:29:49 +0200

At 03:32 +0300 2002-05-21, A. Wik wrote:
On Mon, 20 May 2002, Dag Øien wrote:

 >        This  page  describes  du  as  found in the fileutils-3.16
 >        package; other versions may differ slightly. Mail  correc-
 >        tions and additions to address@hidden and address@hidden
 >        and address@hidden .  Report bugs in  the  pro-
 >        gram to address@hidden
 > GNU fileutils 3.16         August 1998

 Kilo is a SI prefix which always means 1000. Kilo never means anything
 else in any special context. Kilo is an international standard prefix
 which always means 1000.

In the IT world, kilo means 1024 99% of the time, so you had better
get used to it - it's a lot easier than changing the world. (It felt
a bit unusual to me too, a long time ago, but today it doesn't bother
me at all.)

Well, it is wrong.

Besides, kilo isn't consistently used to mean the number 1024 even in
IT. Disk manufactureres usually use kilo and mega correctly, while
operating systems tend to use the wrong meaning. Telecoms has always
used kilo correctly, so transmission speeds are measured in kilobits,
megabits and gigabits, where the prefixes do mean a power of ten.
Clock speeds are measured correctly. etc.

To clean up this long standing mess, several standards bodies
recommend the use of a new binary prefix when referring to powers of

Having a notational prefix, a constant, which can mean one thing for
scientists in most fields, and another for sloppy IT workers, is a
receipe for disaster and misunderstanding. To avoid confusion these
standards bodies recommend the use of a completely different name
(kibi) for the binary prefixes, not just "binary kilobytes" which
still use the prefix kilo.

[)ag (/)ien

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