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Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2017 16:13:23 +0100
From: Colin Watson <>
To: Rich Felker <>
Cc: "A. Wilcox" <>,,
Subject: Re: Re: man-db Test failures under musl libc

On Sat, Aug 26, 2017 at 09:28:08AM -0400, Rich Felker wrote:
> On Sat, Aug 26, 2017 at 01:04:26PM +0100, Colin Watson wrote:
> > man-db can't reasonably do without //IGNORE, certainly not if you want
> > reliability.  Can you try building man-db with GNU libiconv?  The build
> > system uses AM_ICONV already, so should have enough options to let you
> > do this.
> > 
> > (I'd take a patch to the build system to have it detect this situation
> > and emit an error earlier if //IGNORE isn't available.)
> Can you explain? This seems wrong; maybe I misunderstand //IGNORE but
> I can't come up with any plausible scenario where a conversion with
> //IGNORE would produce usable output.

No, it definitely did help in some cases.  Here's the NEWS entry from
when I added that:

        o apropos, lexgrog, man, mandb, and whatis ignore encoding
          conversion errors for the last possible encoding of the source
          page. This helps, for example, with pages including misencoded
          non-ASCII names of authors; it usually seems better to allow these
          pages to pass with small errors than to break them entirely.

That was nine years ago so I no longer have specific examples to hand,
but that's the sort of thing my past self wouldn't have bothered doing
without having run into it in practice. :-)  I seem to remember the case
of non-ASCII authors' names in otherwise-ASCII pages being quite common,
and especially back then the toolchain wasn't always happy to accept
UTF-8 at every stage in every environment.

(This is all after manconv has made its best guess as to the input
encoding using stricter checks; the choice at this point is normally
between mostly-correct output or an error.  For many programs I agree
that an error would be more appropriate, but for a program whose job is
to display documentation I prefer to make a best effort to do so.)

This is actually a bit less critical than I remembered.  I still think
it's worthwhile in general, but I'd also take a patch to use //IGNORE
only when an iconv implementation that supports it is in use.

> Also please be aware that the encoding on a system using musl is
> always UTF-8 (musl only supports UTF-8 locales), so conversion of
> man pages to another locale that can't represent their contents is
> out-of-scope.

Well, you also have the C locale which isn't really true UTF-8.  But
anyway, as noted above, the use of //IGNORE here is not intended for the
case where we are totally unable to represent any of the contents, but
rather for the case of small unrepresentable sections.

Colin Watson                                       []

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