There are certain things sysadmins rely on a lot. If they break it’s really not good. For me, the grep tool is one of them, so I was surprised to find inconsistent results. Based on otherwise good advice I was trying to use grep -i '[p]rocess' to look for running processes. When it didn’t work correctly I discovered related bugs 28981 (includes a good test case) and 36567 so that for us in our environment grep fails when:

  • trying to match upper case data (lower case matched ok)
  • using dash i for case insensitive
  • using square brackets as above
  • LANG was set with UTF8

Evidently this has been a problem for a while. Though fixed upstream the fix hasn’t made it’s way to all production Linux environments, making the use of this common trick a bit risky in production.

What other problems have you encountered that you choose to code around?

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