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help output printed by NSS tools should go to stdout (not to stderr)



5 years ago
4 months ago


(Reporter: kaie, Unassigned)


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(Not tracked)




5 years ago
It's painful to read the help output of NSS tools, because by default it's printed to "stderr".

This means,
  certutil -H | less
doesn't work.

Instead, one has to type (and know about) the more complicated syntax
  certutil -H 2>&1 | less

I propose to change all NSS tools and have their usage/help output being printed to stdout.

Of course, error message shall continue to be printed to stderr.

Comment 1

5 years ago
Does anyone object?

Comment 2

5 years ago
We should follow the convention in Unix. The usage message is
printed in two cases.

1. When explicitly requested with the --help option.
2. When there is a command line error.

GNU make prints the usage message to stdout in the first case
and to stderr in the second case:

wtc@fips:~/tmp$ make --help > temp
wtc@fips:~/tmp$ make --no-such-flag 2> temp

We should do the same. I believe this is what you proposed.
I just wanted to confirm that in the second case we continue
to print the usage message to stderr.

Comment 3

4 months ago
(triage) +1 for this.

I also want to note that the return code should be 0 instead of 1 (when called with --help):

"The standard --help option should output brief documentation for how to invoke the program,
on standard output, then exit successfully." - https://www.gnu.org/prep/standards/html_node/_002d_002dhelp.html

Printing the help output to stderr instead of stdout can be really
frustrating and annoying for a user as it isn't possible to do
a normal "certutil --help | less".

And I agree with Wan-Teh Chang that the output should go to
stderr in the second case (this is especially important
when the output is piped to other scripts).
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