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Recently there was some discussion on inconsistencies in
how version sort worked and some people *basically*, said:

   "it's not our fault, it's Debian's algorithm, you wanna
   change it, convince them."

Um...fine.  Except that it is a Gnu tool, not a Debian tool,
meaning that if one is going to put a Debian sort into a
general purpose tool like "sort", then the algorithm really
needs to be documented.

This means there is no way to verify consistent behavior
from as the utility matures and no way to write an
independent, auditable test case to assure that the sort 
algorithm, operates with consistency from release to release
as well as w/r/t other included sort algorithms.

The request here is for the algorithm used by 'version-sort'
be included in sort's manpage.  This should document
sort's features for reference and use by users who are using
the utility in its native, cmd-line environment.  

Also of importance: that the documentation should be include
with the source and installable with the program executable.

thanks,
linda






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To: L A Walsh <coreutils@HIDDEN>
Subject: bug#33786: Acknowledgement (Bug: undocumented feature (algorithm)
 for version-sort (include on manpage))
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Subject: Re: bug#33786: Bug: undocumented feature (algorithm) for version-sort
 (include on manpage)
To: L A Walsh <coreutils@HIDDEN>, 33786 <at> debbugs.gnu.org
References: <5C189DB5.4070001@HIDDEN>
From: Assaf Gordon <assafgordon@HIDDEN>
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tags  33786 notabug
severity 33786 wishlist
retitle 33786 doc: sort: document Debian's version-sort algorithm
stop

Hello,

On 2018-12-18 12:11 a.m., L A Walsh wrote:
> meaning that if one is going to put a Debian sort into a
> general purpose tool like "sort", then the algorithm really
> needs to be documented.

It is well documented in many places online, e.g.:
https://www.debian.org/doc/debian-policy/ch-controlfields.html#version
https://readme.phys.ethz.ch/documentation/debian_version_numbers/

With a shorter summary available in the coreutils manual here:
https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/Details-about-version-sort.html#Details-about-version-sort

> This means there is no way to verify consistent behavior
> from as the utility matures 

The sort-version.sh test ensure the behavior is consistent from
one release to the next:
https://opengrok.housegordon.com/source/xref/coreutils/tests/misc/sort-version.sh

It also ensures the behavior is compatible with Debian's definition.

> and no way to write an
> independent, auditable test case to assure that the sort algorithm, 
> operates with consistency from release to release
> as well as w/r/t other included sort algorithms.

This message contains example of how to compare results between
coreutils' sort and debian's utilities:
https://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/bug-coreutils/2018-11/msg00017.html

Here's a post about doing the same using python:
https://stackoverflow.com/a/4957741

And in NodeJS:
https://www.npmjs.com/package/deb-version-compare

I'm sure there are many other implementations that
allow easy comparison of one against the other to quickly find
any discrepancies.


As for auditable code, the actual code is here (part of gnulib):
https://opengrok.housegordon.com/source/xref/gnulib/lib/filevercmp.c

And gnulib also includes a unit-test:
https://opengrok.housegordon.com/source/xref/gnulib/tests/test-filevercmp.c

There's no better audit-ability than the source code itself.


> The request here is for the algorithm used by 'version-sort'
> be included in sort's manpage.  This should document
> sort's features for reference and use by users who are using
> the utility in its native, cmd-line environment.

If a coreutils' program implements a known standard,
it's not necessarily beneficial to include implementation details of
the standard, as this is available elsewhere.

For example, the manual for the "base64" program does not include
an explanation of what base64 is. Instead, it links to RFC4648:
https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/base64-
invocation.html#base64-invocation

As your request is for a change in documentation, I'm marking this
as a wish-list item.
As always, concrete patches are welcomed and they go a long way towards
expediting any desired changes - if you have suggestions please do send
a patch.

> Also of importance: that the documentation should be include with the
> source and installable with the program executable.
When someone downloads coreutils' source, they automatically get
the manual (in texinfo format, easily convertible to HTML/PDF).

When they install coreutils (e.g. "make install"), the manual
is also installed (as an "info" file).


regards,
  - assaf




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Subject: Re: bug#33786: Bug: undocumented feature (algorithm) for version-sort
 (include on manpage)
To: L A Walsh <coreutils@HIDDEN>, 33786 <at> debbugs.gnu.org
References: <5C189DB5.4070001@HIDDEN>
From: Assaf Gordon <assafgordon@HIDDEN>
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Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2018 01:04:42 -0700
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tags  33786 notabug
severity 33786 wishlist
retitle 33786 doc: sort: document Debian's version-sort algorithm
stop

Hello,

On 2018-12-18 12:11 a.m., L A Walsh wrote:
> meaning that if one is going to put a Debian sort into a
> general purpose tool like "sort", then the algorithm really
> needs to be documented.

It is well documented in many places online, e.g.:
https://www.debian.org/doc/debian-policy/ch-controlfields.html#version
https://readme.phys.ethz.ch/documentation/debian_version_numbers/

With a shorter summary available in the coreutils manual here:
https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/Details-about-version-sort.html#Details-about-version-sort

> This means there is no way to verify consistent behavior
> from as the utility matures 

The sort-version.sh test ensure the behavior is consistent from
one release to the next:
https://opengrok.housegordon.com/source/xref/coreutils/tests/misc/sort-version.sh

It also ensures the behavior is compatible with Debian's definition.

> and no way to write an
> independent, auditable test case to assure that the sort algorithm, 
> operates with consistency from release to release
> as well as w/r/t other included sort algorithms.

This message contains example of how to compare results between
coreutils' sort and debian's utilities:
https://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/bug-coreutils/2018-11/msg00017.html

Here's a post about doing the same using python:
https://stackoverflow.com/a/4957741

And in NodeJS:
https://www.npmjs.com/package/deb-version-compare

I'm sure there are many other implementations that
allow easy comparison of one against the other to quickly find
any discrepancies.


As for auditable code, the actual code is here (part of gnulib):
https://opengrok.housegordon.com/source/xref/gnulib/lib/filevercmp.c

And gnulib also includes a unit-test:
https://opengrok.housegordon.com/source/xref/gnulib/tests/test-filevercmp.c

There's no better audit-ability than the source code itself.


> The request here is for the algorithm used by 'version-sort'
> be included in sort's manpage.  This should document
> sort's features for reference and use by users who are using
> the utility in its native, cmd-line environment.

If a coreutils' program implements a known standard,
it's not necessarily beneficial to include implementation details of
the standard, as this is available elsewhere.

For example, the manual for the "base64" program does not include
an explanation of what base64 is. Instead, it links to RFC4648:
https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/base64-
invocation.html#base64-invocation

As your request is for a change in documentation, I'm marking this
as a wish-list item.
As always, concrete patches are welcomed and they go a long way towards
expediting any desired changes - if you have suggestions please do send
a patch.

> Also of importance: that the documentation should be include with the
> source and installable with the program executable.
When someone downloads coreutils' source, they automatically get
the manual (in texinfo format, easily convertible to HTML/PDF).

When they install coreutils (e.g. "make install"), the manual
is also installed (as an "info" file).


regards,
  - assaf




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Subject: Re: bug#33786: Bug: undocumented feature (algorithm) for version-sort
 (include on manpage)
To: L A Walsh <coreutils@HIDDEN>, 33786 <at> debbugs.gnu.org
References: <5C189DB5.4070001@HIDDEN>
From: Assaf Gordon <assafgordon@HIDDEN>
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tags  33786 notabug
severity 33786 wishlist
retitle 33786 doc: sort: document Debian's version-sort algorithm
stop

Hello,

On 2018-12-18 12:11 a.m., L A Walsh wrote:
> meaning that if one is going to put a Debian sort into a
> general purpose tool like "sort", then the algorithm really
> needs to be documented.

It is well documented in many places online, e.g.:
https://www.debian.org/doc/debian-policy/ch-controlfields.html#version
https://readme.phys.ethz.ch/documentation/debian_version_numbers/

With a shorter summary available in the coreutils manual here:
https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/Details-about-version-sort.html#Details-about-version-sort

> This means there is no way to verify consistent behavior
> from as the utility matures 

The sort-version.sh test ensure the behavior is consistent from
one release to the next:
https://opengrok.housegordon.com/source/xref/coreutils/tests/misc/sort-version.sh

It also ensures the behavior is compatible with Debian's definition.

> and no way to write an
> independent, auditable test case to assure that the sort algorithm, 
> operates with consistency from release to release
> as well as w/r/t other included sort algorithms.

This message contains example of how to compare results between
coreutils' sort and debian's utilities:
https://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/bug-coreutils/2018-11/msg00017.html

Here's a post about doing the same using python:
https://stackoverflow.com/a/4957741

And in NodeJS:
https://www.npmjs.com/package/deb-version-compare

I'm sure there are many other implementations that
allow easy comparison of one against the other to quickly find
any discrepancies.


As for auditable code, the actual code is here (part of gnulib):
https://opengrok.housegordon.com/source/xref/gnulib/lib/filevercmp.c

And gnulib also includes a unit-test:
https://opengrok.housegordon.com/source/xref/gnulib/tests/test-filevercmp.c

There's no better audit-ability than the source code itself.


> The request here is for the algorithm used by 'version-sort'
> be included in sort's manpage.  This should document
> sort's features for reference and use by users who are using
> the utility in its native, cmd-line environment.

If a coreutils' program implements a known standard,
it's not necessarily beneficial to include implementation details of
the standard, as this is available elsewhere.

For example, the manual for the "base64" program does not include
an explanation of what base64 is. Instead, it links to RFC4648:
https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/base64-
invocation.html#base64-invocation

As your request is for a change in documentation, I'm marking this
as a wish-list item.
As always, concrete patches are welcomed and they go a long way towards
expediting any desired changes - if you have suggestions please do send
a patch.

> Also of importance: that the documentation should be include with the
> source and installable with the program executable.
When someone downloads coreutils' source, they automatically get
the manual (in texinfo format, easily convertible to HTML/PDF).

When they install coreutils (e.g. "make install"), the manual
is also installed (as an "info" file).


regards,
  - assaf




Message sent to bug-coreutils@HIDDEN:


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From: Assaf Gordon <assafgordon@HIDDEN>
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tags  33786 notabug
severity 33786 wishlist
retitle 33786 doc: sort: document Debian's version-sort algorithm
stop

Hello,

On 2018-12-18 12:11 a.m., L A Walsh wrote:
> meaning that if one is going to put a Debian sort into a
> general purpose tool like "sort", then the algorithm really
> needs to be documented.

It is well documented in many places online, e.g.:
https://www.debian.org/doc/debian-policy/ch-controlfields.html#version
https://readme.phys.ethz.ch/documentation/debian_version_numbers/

With a shorter summary available in the coreutils manual here:
https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/Details-about-version-sort.html#Details-about-version-sort

> This means there is no way to verify consistent behavior
> from as the utility matures 

The sort-version.sh test ensure the behavior is consistent from
one release to the next:
https://opengrok.housegordon.com/source/xref/coreutils/tests/misc/sort-version.sh

It also ensures the behavior is compatible with Debian's definition.

> and no way to write an
> independent, auditable test case to assure that the sort algorithm, 
> operates with consistency from release to release
> as well as w/r/t other included sort algorithms.

This message contains example of how to compare results between
coreutils' sort and debian's utilities:
https://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/bug-coreutils/2018-11/msg00017.html

Here's a post about doing the same using python:
https://stackoverflow.com/a/4957741

And in NodeJS:
https://www.npmjs.com/package/deb-version-compare

I'm sure there are many other implementations that
allow easy comparison of one against the other to quickly find
any discrepancies.


As for auditable code, the actual code is here (part of gnulib):
https://opengrok.housegordon.com/source/xref/gnulib/lib/filevercmp.c

And gnulib also includes a unit-test:
https://opengrok.housegordon.com/source/xref/gnulib/tests/test-filevercmp.c

There's no better audit-ability than the source code itself.


> The request here is for the algorithm used by 'version-sort'
> be included in sort's manpage.  This should document
> sort's features for reference and use by users who are using
> the utility in its native, cmd-line environment.

If a coreutils' program implements a known standard,
it's not necessarily beneficial to include implementation details of
the standard, as this is available elsewhere.

For example, the manual for the "base64" program does not include
an explanation of what base64 is. Instead, it links to RFC4648:
https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/base64-
invocation.html#base64-invocation

As your request is for a change in documentation, I'm marking this
as a wish-list item.
As always, concrete patches are welcomed and they go a long way towards
expediting any desired changes - if you have suggestions please do send
a patch.

> Also of importance: that the documentation should be include with the
> source and installable with the program executable.
When someone downloads coreutils' source, they automatically get
the manual (in texinfo format, easily convertible to HTML/PDF).

When they install coreutils (e.g. "make install"), the manual
is also installed (as an "info" file).


regards,
  - assaf




Message sent to bug-coreutils@HIDDEN:


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So undocumented features are considered wishlist items
in Gnu?   

On 12/18/2018 12:04 AM, Assaf Gordon wrote:
> tags  33786 notabug
> severity 33786 wishlist
> retitle 33786 doc: sort: document Debian's version-sort algorithm
> stop
> 
> Hello,
> 
> On 2018-12-18 12:11 a.m., L A Walsh wrote:
>> meaning that if one is going to put a Debian sort into a
>> general purpose tool like "sort", then the algorithm really
>> needs to be documented.
> 
> It is well documented in many places online, e.g.:
> https://www.debian.org/doc/debian-policy/ch-controlfields.html#version
> https://readme.phys.ethz.ch/documentation/debian_version_numbers/
> 
> With a shorter summary available in the coreutils manual here:
> https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/Details-about-version-sort.html#Details-about-version-sort
> 
>> This means there is no way to verify consistent behavior
>> from as the utility matures 
> 
> The sort-version.sh test ensure the behavior is consistent from
> one release to the next:
> https://opengrok.housegordon.com/source/xref/coreutils/tests/misc/sort-version.sh
> 
> It also ensures the behavior is compatible with Debian's definition.
> 
>> and no way to write an
>> independent, auditable test case to assure that the sort algorithm, 
>> operates with consistency from release to release
>> as well as w/r/t other included sort algorithms.
> 
> This message contains example of how to compare results between
> coreutils' sort and debian's utilities:
> https://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/bug-coreutils/2018-11/msg00017.html
> 
> Here's a post about doing the same using python:
> https://stackoverflow.com/a/4957741
> 
> And in NodeJS:
> https://www.npmjs.com/package/deb-version-compare
> 
> I'm sure there are many other implementations that
> allow easy comparison of one against the other to quickly find
> any discrepancies.
> 
> 
> As for auditable code, the actual code is here (part of gnulib):
> https://opengrok.housegordon.com/source/xref/gnulib/lib/filevercmp.c
> 
> And gnulib also includes a unit-test:
> https://opengrok.housegordon.com/source/xref/gnulib/tests/test-filevercmp.c
> 
> There's no better audit-ability than the source code itself.
> 
> 
>> The request here is for the algorithm used by 'version-sort'
>> be included in sort's manpage.  This should document
>> sort's features for reference and use by users who are using
>> the utility in its native, cmd-line environment.
> 
> If a coreutils' program implements a known standard,
> it's not necessarily beneficial to include implementation details of
> the standard, as this is available elsewhere.
> 
> For example, the manual for the "base64" program does not include
> an explanation of what base64 is. Instead, it links to RFC4648:
> https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/base64-
> invocation.html#base64-invocation
> 
> As your request is for a change in documentation, I'm marking this
> as a wish-list item.
> As always, concrete patches are welcomed and they go a long way towards
> expediting any desired changes - if you have suggestions please do send
> a patch.
> 
>> Also of importance: that the documentation should be include with the
>> source and installable with the program executable.
> When someone downloads coreutils' source, they automatically get
> the manual (in texinfo format, easily convertible to HTML/PDF).
> 
> When they install coreutils (e.g. "make install"), the manual
> is also installed (as an "info" file).
> 
> 
> regards,
>   - assaf




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I wouldn't consider debian to be a standards organization.

Perhaps they should get their version sort adopted by POSIX?

But having algorithms that read:

use ascii sort for this field if after a character in this list [].
but use numeric sort for this field if after this list [].
but use an indeterminant sort if the field has unicode characters...

would hardly seem likely if it was a publish standard.

In the test cases I used, subsequent fields' sort methods
were determined by previous fields with a non-obvious
behavior. 

That it is well documented on the net 'somewhere', is 
part of the problem -- on a console, there was no
web browser nor internet access.







Last modified: Tue, 18 Dec 2018 08:15:01 UTC

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