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[bug #712] GNU make can't handle spaces in pathnames

From: Icarus Sparry
Subject: [bug #712] GNU make can't handle spaces in pathnames
Date: Tue, 03 Jul 2007 21:47:53 +0000
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/20070310 Iceweasel/ (Debian-

Follow-up Comment #9, bug #712 (project make):

"How hard is it to handle quoting properly?" - impossible if we wish to
maintain backward compatibility.

As Paul said nearly 4 years ago, make works in terms of "words" which are
whitespace separated.

The quotation that starts this comment is viewed by make as 8 words  , the
first of which is 4 characters long, a double quote followed by the letters
'H', 'o' and 'w'.

"Heck, even DOS can accept quoted arguments.". Does it? I type

echo "fred x"

and it returns

"fred x"

rather than the 

fred x

I would expect. And if I try and create a file called a"b from the command
line it fails, if I try from wordpad it tells me the name is invalid. Unix
allows any characters in components of filenames except NUL and /. Whilst
this is very flexible it also causes problems. The people who wrote unix
recognised this, and in their next operating system they restricted the
characters permitted in filenames to not allow control characters and the
normal whitespace characters. At the same time they extended the valid
characters to include things like alpha α, which are outside the traditional
ASCII character set.


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