Awk issues: system awk vs [ng]awk in ports

Randall Wood rhwood at
Thu Mar 22 18:38:37 PDT 2007

On 22 Mar 2007, at 09:29, Vincent Lefevre wrote:

> On 2007-03-22 05:47:36 -0400, Randall Wood wrote:
>> I maintain the gnome-doc-util port and am using only the system awk
>> (Mac OS X 10.4.9 ppc)
> And I fear that many ports need to be updated to use the MacPorts
> version instead of the system one (not only for awk, but also for
> other utilities). And that's a reason why I think that the "g"
> prefix is a bad idea.


Many ports need to have bug reports submitted to upstream maintainers  
to have non-POSIX [g|m|n]awk dependencies fixed. Since gawk behaves  
differently than awk (and needs to be passed flags to prevent that  
different behavior), we do not want to risk breaking a port whose  
upstream maintainers are aware of and have worked around that issue.

The problem with gnome-doc-utils is that the upstream maintainers  
accidently left some code in to force gawk to behave like awk when  
they shipped it, knowing that on linux, awk = gawk[1]. This port's  
configure system correctly detects for the presence of gawk, mawk,  
nawk, and awk (in that order).

In any event, the next version of gnome-doc-utils will have this  
fixed, and, in the meantime, the Portfile has this fixed as of  
changeset 23035[2]. Port sync, port clean gnome-doc-utils, and build  
again. I did not bump the revision as users with gawk installed would  
not have noticed this problem.


Randall Wood
rhwood at

"The rules are simple: The ball is round. The game lasts 90 minutes.  
All the
rest is just philosophy."

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