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Bug#886173: general: ls quotes results with special characters in its output

Control: reassign -1 coreutils

On Tue, 2018-01-02 at 20:38 +0000, mqudsi@xxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
> In particular, `ls` output (both in regular and `-l` modes) wraps in
> single quotes the names of files that contain special characters (or, at
> least, a parenthesis), meaning its output is not an accurate reflection
> of the actual contents of the directory.

The output of ls on a terminal has never, in general, been an accurate
reflection of the contents of a directory.  Consider that filenames can
contain *any* byte value other than '\0' or '/', so including carriage
return, newline, backspace and escape characters.

ls also uses multiple columns by default, but without quoting you can't
generally tell where the columns are, e.g. is:

aa  ba  ca
ab  bb  cb

a list of 6 two-letter filenames, or 2 filenames with spaces in, or
something else again?

> Additionally, the output cannot be copied-and-pasted as it is. What is
> the point of injecting quotes if they don't actually escape/quote their
> content? To illustrate with an example:
> ```
> mqudsi@buster ~> touch \$\(test\)
> mqudsi@buster ~> ls -l
> -rw-r--r-- 1 mqudsi mqudsi    0 Jan  2 14:27 '$(test)'
> ```
> That's not shell-safe, but the quotes might lead you to think it were.[...]

It is shell-safe.  No $-expansion is done within single-quoted text.

> There's no good way to account for all inputs or to account for the
> idiosyncrasies of the quoting behavior of all the different shells.

I think that the behaviour of single-quoting is very consistent across
shells, in part because it is specified by POSIX.

> Hopefully this behavior can be changed to simply listing the contents of
> the specified directory as-is.

Be careful what you wish for.  But I think this will revert the recent

    alias ls='ls --literal'

and this will disable all transformation of filenames (the same as if
output is not sent to a terminal):

    alias ls='ls --literal --color=never --show-control-chars -1'


Ben Hutchings
Lowery's Law:
        If it jams, force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway.

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