[R-pkg-devel] Dialect for shell scripts

Rodrigo Tobar rtobar at icrar.org
Mon Dec 11 23:56:23 CET 2017

Dear all,

During a recent package submission, we were highlighted that some lines
in our configure script didn't follow the correct syntax. The lines
looked like this:


We were indicated at the time that this is because the statement does
not use Bourne shell syntax, which is absolutely true, and also that the
manual warns about this, which is true again. So far everything is clear.

However, what confuses me is that even when the manual says that "you
can include an executable (Bourne) shell script configure in your
package" [1], the associated footnote says something slightly different:
"The script should only assume a POSIX-compliant /bin/sh" [2]. The
footnote goes even further, and links to the POSIX specification of the
Shell Command Language [3] (as published by The Open Group), which
explicitly includes arithmetic expressions like the one above in its
syntax [4].

My question then is: what exact dialect should be considered? Given that
the statement above does not work in the Bourne shell, I conclude that
the Bourne shell is not POSIX-compliant. That in turn would make the
manual ambiguous as to the precise dialect that should be used by our
configure scripts, and either the shells used by R should be changed to
be POSIX-compliants, or the manual edited to be more precise regarding .

Many thanks.


[2] https://cran.r-project.org/doc/manuals/r-release/R-exts.html#FOOT25
[3] http://pubs.opengroup.org/onlinepubs/9699919799/utilities/V3_chap02.html

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