Maintaining GNU Findutils 4.9.0

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Maintaining GNU Findutils

This manual explains how GNU findutils is maintained, how changes should be made and tested, and what resources exist to help developers.

This document corresponds to version 4.9.0 of the GNU findutils.

Copyright © 2007–2022 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation License”.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

This document explains how to contribute to and maintain GNU Findutils. It concentrates on developer-specific issues. For information about how to use the software please refer to See Introduction in The Findutils manual.

This manual aims to be useful without necessarily being verbose. It’s also a recent document, so there will be a many areas in which improvements can be made. If you find that the document misses out important information or any part of the document is be so terse as to be unuseful, please ask for help on the mailing list. We’ll try to improve this document too.

2 Maintaining GNU Programs

GNU Findutils is part of the GNU Project and so there are a number of documents which set out standards for the maintenance of GNU software.


GNU Project Coding Standards. All changes to findutils should comply with these standards. In some areas we go somewhat beyond the requirements of the standards, but these cases are explained in this manual.


Information for Maintainers of GNU Software. This document provides guidance for GNU maintainers. Everybody with commit access should read this document. Everybody else is welcome to do so too, of course.

3 Design Issues

The findutils package is installed on many many systems, usually as a fundamental component. The programs in the package are often used in order to successfully boot or fix the system.

This fact means that for findutils we bear in mind considerations that may not apply so much as for other packages. For example, the fact that findutils is often a base component motivates us to

All those considerations come before functionality. Functional enhancements are still made to findutils, but these are almost exclusively introduced in the ’development’ release branch, to allow extensive testing and proving.

Sometimes it is useful to have a priority list to provide guidance when making design trade-offs. For findutils, that priority list is:

  1. Correctness
  2. Standards compliance
  3. Security
  4. Backward compatibility
  5. Performance
  6. Functionality

For example, we support the -exec action because POSIX compliance requires this, even though there are security problems with it and we would otherwise prefer people to use -execdir. There are also cases where some performance is sacrificed in the name of security. For example, the sanity checks that find performs while traversing a directory tree may slow it down. We adopt functional changes, and functional changes are allowed to make find slower, but only if there is no detectable impact on users who don’t use the feature.

Backward-incompatible changes do get made in order to comply with standards (for example the behaviour of -perm -... changed in order to comply with POSIX). However, they don’t get made in order to provide better ease of use; for example the semantics of -size -2G are almost always unexpected by users, but we retain the current behaviour because of backward compatibility and for its similarity to the block-rounding behaviour of -size -30. We might introduce a change which does not have the unfortunate rounding behaviour, but we would choose another syntax (for example -size '<2G') for this.

In a general sense, we try to do test-driven development of the findutils code; that is, we try to implement test cases for new features and bug fixes before modifying the code to make the test pass. Some features of the code are tested well, but the test coverage for other features is less good. If you are about to modify the code for a predicate and aren’t sure about the test coverage, use grep on the test directories and measure the coverage with lcov or another test coverage tool.

You should be able to use the coverage Makefile target (it’s defined in to generate a test coverage report for findutils. Due to limitations in lcov, this only works if your build directory is the same asthe source directory (that is, you’re not using a VPATH build configuration).

Lastly, we try not to depend on having a “working system”. The findutils suite is used for diagnosis of problems, and this applies especially to find. We should ensure that find still works on relatively broken systems, for example systems with damaged /etc/passwd or /etc/fstab files. Another interesting example is the case where a system is a client of one or more unresponsive NFS servers. On such a system, if you try to stat all mount points, your program will hang indefinitely, waiting for the remote NFS server to respond.

Another interesting but unusual case is broken NFS servers and corrupt filesystems; sometimes they return ‘impossible’ file modes. It’s important that find does not entirely fail when encountering such a file.

4 Coding Conventions

Coding style documents which set out to establish a uniform look and feel to source code have worthy goals, for example greater ease of maintenance and readability. However, I do not believe that in general coding style guide authors can envisage every situation, and it is always possible that it might on occasion be necessary to break the letter of the style guide in order to honour its spirit, or to better achieve the style guide’s goals.

I’ve certainly seen many style guides outside the free software world which make bald statements such as “functions shall have exactly one return statement”. The desire to ensure consistency and obviousness of control flow is laudable, but it is all too common for such bald requirements to be followed unthinkingly. Certainly I’ve seen such coding standards result in unmaintainable code with terrible infelicities such as functions containing if statements nested nine levels deep. I suppose such coding standards don’t survive in free software projects because they tend to drive away potential contributors or tend to generate heated discussions on mailing lists. Equally, a nine-level-deep function in a free software program would quickly get refactored, assuming it is obvious what the function is supposed to do...

Be that as it may, the approach I will take for this document is to explain some idioms and practices in use in the findutils source code, and leave it up to the reader’s engineering judgement to decide which considerations apply to the code they are working on, and whether or not there is sufficient reason to ignore the guidance in current circumstances.

4.1 Make the Compiler Find the Bugs

Finding bugs is tedious. If I have a filesystem containing two million files, and a find command line should print one million of them, but in fact it misses out 1%, you can tell the program is printing the wrong result only if you know the right answer for that filesystem at that time. If you don’t know this, you may just not find out about that bug. For this reason it is important to have a comprehensive test suite.

The test suite is of course not the only way to find the bugs. The findutils source code makes liberal use of the assert macro. While on the one hand these might be a performance drain, the performance impact of most of these is negligible compared to the time taken to fetch even one sector from a disk drive.

Assertions should not be used to check the results of operations which may be affected by the program’s external environment. For example, never assert that a file could be opened successfully. Errors relating to problems with the program’s execution environment should be diagnosed with a user-oriented error message. An assertion failure should always denote a bug in the program.

Avoid using assert to mark not-fully-implemented features of your code as such. Finish the implementation, disable the code, or leave the unfinished version on a local branch.

Several programs in the findutils suite perform self-checks. See for example the function pred_sanity_check in find/pred.c. This is generally desirable.

There are also a number of small ways in which we can help the compiler to find the bugs for us.

4.1.1 Constants in Equality Testing

It’s a common error to write = when == is meant. Sometimes this happens in new code and is simply due to finger trouble. Sometimes it is the result of the inadvertent deletion of a character. In any case, there is a subset of cases where we can persuade the compiler to generate an error message when we make this mistake; this is where the equality test is with a constant.

This is an example of a vulnerable piece of code.

if (x == 2)

A simple typo converts the above into

if (x = 2)

We’ve introduced a bug; the condition is always true, and the value of x has been changed. However, a simple change to our practice would have made us immune to this problem:

if (2 == x)

Usually, the Emacs keystroke M-t can be used to swap the operands.

4.1.2 Spelling of ASCII NUL

Strings in C are just sequences of characters terminated by a NUL. The ASCII NUL character has the numerical value zero. It is normally represented in C code as ‘\0’. Here is a typical piece of C code:

*p = '\0';

Consider what happens if there is an unfortunate typo:

*p = '0';

We have changed the meaning of our program and the compiler cannot diagnose this as an error. Our string is no longer terminated. Bad things will probably happen. It would be better if the compiler could help us diagnose this problem.

In C, the type of '\0' is in fact int, not char. This provides us with a simple way to avoid this error. The constant 0 has the same value and type as the constant '\0'. However, it is not as vulnerable to typos. For this reason I normally prefer to use this code:

*p = 0;

4.2 Factor Out Repeated Code

Repeated code imposes a greater maintenance burden and increases the exposure to bugs. For example, if you discover that something you want to implement has some similarity with an existing piece of code, don’t cut and paste it. Instead, factor the code out. The risk of cutting and pasting the code, particularly if you do this several times, is that you end up with several copies of the same code.

If the original code had a bug, you now have N places where this needs to be fixed. It’s all to easy to miss some out when trying to fix the bug. Equally, it’s quite possible that when pasting the code into some function, the pasted code was not quite adapted correctly to its new environment. To pick a contrived example, perhaps it modifies a global variable which it (that [original] code) shouldn’t be touching in its new home. Worse, perhaps it makes some unstated assumption about the nature of the input arguments which is in fact not true for the context of the now duplicated code.

A good example of the use of refactoring in findutils is the collect_arg function in find/parser.c.

The findutils test suite is comprehensive enough that refactoring code should not generally be a daunting prospect from a testing point of view. Nevertheless there are some areas which are only lightly-tested:

  1. Tests on the ages of files
  2. Code which deals with the values returned by operating system calls (for example handling of ENOENT)
  3. Code dealing with OS limits (for example, limits on path length or exec arguments)
  4. Code relating to features not all systems have (for example Solaris Doors)

Please exercise caution when working in those areas.

4.3 Debugging is For Users Too

Debug and diagnostic code is often used to verify that a program is working in the way its author thinks it should be. But users are often uncertain about what a program is doing, too. Exposing them a little more diagnostic information can help. Much of the diagnostic code in find, for example, is controlled by the ‘-D’ flag, as opposed to C preprocessor directives.

Making diagnostic messages available to users also means that the phrasing of the diagnostic messages becomes important, too.

4.4 Don’t Trust the File System Contents

People use find to search in directories created by other people. Sometimes they do this to check to suspicious activity (for example to look for new setuid binaries). This means that it would be bad if find were vulnerable to, say, a security problem exploitable by constructing a specially-crafted filename. The same consideration would apply to locate and updatedb.

Henry Spencer said this well in his fifth commandment:

Thou shalt check the array bounds of all strings (indeed, all arrays), for surely where thou typest ‘foo’ someone someday shall type ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’.

Symbolic links can often be a problem. If find calls lstat on something and discovers that it is a directory, it’s normal for find to recurse into it. Even if the chdir system call is used immediately, there is still a window of opportunity between the lstat and the chdir in which a malicious person could rename the directory and substitute a symbolic link to some other directory.

4.5 The File System Is Being Modified

The filesystem gets modified while you are traversing it. For, example, it’s normal for files to get deleted while find is traversing a directory. Issuing an error message seems helpful when a file is deleted from the one directory you are interested in, but if find is searching 15000 directories, such a message becomes less helpful.

Bear in mind also that it is possible for the directory find is searching to be concurrently moved elsewhere in the file system, and that the directory in which find was started could be deleted.

Henry Spencer’s sixth commandment is also apposite here:

If a function be advertised to return an error code in the event of difficulties, thou shalt check for that code, yea, even though the checks triple the size of thy code and produce aches in thy typing fingers, for if thou thinkest “it cannot happen to me”, the gods shall surely punish thee for thy arrogance.

There are a lot of files out there. They come in all dates and sizes. There is a condition out there in the real world to exercise every bit of the code base. So we try to test that code base before someone falls over a bug.

5 Tools

Most of the tools required to build findutils are mentioned in the file README-hacking. We also use some other tools:

System call traces

Much of the execution time of find is spent waiting for filesystem operations. A system call trace (for example, that provided by strace) shows what system calls are being made. Using this information we can work to remove unnecessary file system operations.


Valgrind is a tool which dynamically verifies the memory accesses a program makes to ensure that they are valid (for example, that the behaviour of the program does not in any way depend on the contents of uninitialized memory).


DejaGnu is the test framework used to run the findutils test suite (the runtest program is part of DejaGnu). It would be ideal if everybody building findutils also ran the test suite, but many people don’t have DejaGnu installed. When changes are made to findutils, DejaGnu is invoked a lot. See Testing, for more information.

6 Using the GNU Portability Library

The Gnulib library ( makes a variety of systems look more like a GNU/Linux system and also applies a bunch of automatic bug fixes and workarounds. Some of these also apply to GNU/Linux systems too. For example, the Gnulib regex implementation is used when we determine that we are building on a GNU libc system with a bug in the regex implementation.

6.1 How and Why we Import the Gnulib Code

Gnulib does not have a release process which results in a source tarball you can download. Instead, the code is simply made available by GIT, so we import gnulib via the submodule feature. The bootstrap script performs the necessary steps.

Findutils does not use all the Gnulib code. The modules we need are listed in the file bootstrap.conf.

The upshot of all this is that we can use the findutils git repository to track which version of Gnulib every findutils release uses.

A small number of files are installed by automake and will therefore vary according to which version of automake was used to generate a release. This includes for example boiler-plate GNU files such as ABOUT-NLS, INSTALL and COPYING.

6.2 How We Fix Gnulib Bugs

Gnulib is used by quite a number of GNU projects, and this means that it gets plenty of testing. Therefore there are relatively few bugs in the Gnulib code, but it does happen from time to time.

However, since there is no waiting around for a Gnulib source release tarball, Gnulib bugs are generally fixed quickly. Here is an outline of the way we would contribute a fix to Gnulib (assuming you know it is not already fixed in the current Gnulib git tree):

Check you already completed a copyright assignment for Gnulib
Begin with a vanilla git tree

Download the Findutils source code from git (or use the tree you have already)

Run the bootstrap script
Run configure
Build findutils

Build findutils and run the test suite, which should pass. In our example we assume you have just noticed a bug in Gnulib, not that recent Gnulib changes broke the findutils regression tests.

Write a test case

If in fact Gnulib did break the findutils regression tests, you can probably skip this step, since you already have a test case demonstrating the problem. Otherwise, write a findutils test case for the bug and/or a Gnulib test case.

Fix the Gnulib bug

Make sure your editor follows symbolic links so that your changes to gnulib/... actually affect the files in the git working directory you checked out earlier. Observe that your test now passes.

Prepare a Gnulib patch

In the gnulib subdirectory, use git format-patch to prepare the patch. Follow the normal usage for checkin comments (take a look at the output of git log). Check that the patch conforms with the GNU coding standards, and email it to the Gnulib mailing list.

Wait for the patch to be applied

Once your bug fix has been applied, you can update your gnulib directory from git, and then check in the change to the submodule as normal (you can check git help submodule for details).

There is an alternative to the method above; it is possible to store local diffs to be patched into gnulib beneath the gnulib-local. Normally however, there is no need for this, since gnulib updates are very prompt.

6.3 How to update Gnulib to latest

With a non-dirty working tree, the command make update-gnulib-to-latest (or the shorter alias make gnulib-sync allows, well, to update the gnulib submodule. In detail, that is:

  1. Fetching the latest upstream gnulib reference.
  2. Copying the files which should stay in sync like bootstrap from gnulib into the findutils working tree.
  3. And finally showing the git status for the gnulib submodule and the above copied files.

After that, the maintainer compares if all is correct, if the findutils build and run correct, and finally commits with the new gnulib version, e.g. via git gui.

The gnulib-sync target can be run any time - after a configure run -, and only rejects to run if the working tree is dirty.

7 Documentation

The findutils git tree includes several different types of documentation.

7.1 git change log

The git change log for the source tree contains check-in messages which describe each check-in. These have a standard format:

Summary of the change.

(ChangeLog-style detail)

Here, the format of the detail part follows the standard GNU ChangeLog style, but without whitespace in the left margin and without author/date headers. Take a look at the output of git log to see some examples. The README-hacking file also contains an example with an explanation.

7.2 User Documentation

User-oriented documentation is provided as manual pages and in Texinfo. See Introduction in The Findutils manual.

Please make sure both sets of documentation are updated if you make a change to the code. The GNU coding standards do not normally call for maintaining manual pages on the grounds of effort duplication. However, the manual page format is more convenient for quick reference, and so it’s worth maintaining both types of documentation. However, the manual pages are normally rather more terse than the Texinfo documentation. The manual pages are suitable for reference use, but the Texinfo manual should also include introductory and tutorial material.

We make the user documentation available on the web, on the GNU project web site. These web pages are source-controlled via CVS (still!). If you are a member of the ‘findutils’ project on Savannah you should be able to check the web pages out like this (‘$USER’ is a placeholder for your Savannah username):

cvs -d :ext:$ checkout findutils/manual

You can automatically update the documentation in this repository by using the script ‘build-aux/’ with the path to the findutils Git repository as parameter.

build-aux/ $HOME/git/findutils

That script will generate the documentation in the directory ‘doc/manual/’ by calling the make target ‘web-manual’; then it will copy over the files into the CVS checkout.

There you can check the documentation once again before committing to CVS. The Savannah CVS server will automatically initiate the transfer to the web server.

7.3 Build Guidance


Describes the Free Translation Project, the translation status of various GNU projects, and how to participate by translating an application.


Lists the authors of findutils.


The copyright license covering findutils; currently, the GNU GPL, version 3.


Generic installation instructions for installing GNU programs.


Information about how to compile findutils in particular


Describes how to build findutils from the code in git.


Thanks for people who contributed to findutils. Generally, if someone’s contribution was significant enough to need a copyright assignment, their name should go in here.


Mainly obsolete. Please add bugs to the Savannah bug tracker instead of adding entries to this file.

7.4 Release Information


Enumerates the user-visible change in each release. Typical changes are fixed bugs, functionality changes and documentation changes. Include the date when a release is made.


This file enumerates all changes to the findutils source code (with the possible exception of .cvsignore and .gitignore changes). The level of detail used for this file should be sufficient to answer the questions “what changed?” and “why was it changed?”. The file is generated from the git commit messages during make dist. If a change fixes a bug, always give the bug reference number in the NEWS file and of course also in the checkin message. In general, it should be possible to enumerate all material changes to a function by searching for its name in ChangeLog. Mention when each release is made.

8 Testing

This chapter will explain the general procedures for adding tests to the test suite, and the functions defined in the findutils-specific DejaGnu configuration. Where appropriate references will be made to the DejaGnu documentation.

9 Bugs

Bugs are logged in the Savannah bug tracker The tracker offers several fields but their use is largely obvious. The life-cycle of a bug is like this:


Someone, usually a maintainer, a distribution maintainer or a user, creates a bug by filling in the form. They fill in field values as they see fit. This will generate an email to


The bug hangs around with ‘Status=None’ until someone begins to work on it. At that point they set the “Assigned To” field and will sometimes set the status to ‘In Progress’, especially if the bug will take a while to fix.


Quite a lot of reports are not actually bugs; for these the usual procedure is to explain why the problem is not a bug, set the status to ‘Invalid’ and close the bug. Make sure you set the ‘Assigned to’ field to yourself before closing the bug.


When you commit a bug fix into git (or in the case of a contributed patch, commit the change), mark the bug as ‘Fixed’. Make sure you include a new test case where this is relevant. If you can figure out which releases are affected, please also set the ‘Release’ field to the earliest release which is affected by the bug. Indicate which source branch the fix is included in (for example, 4.2.x or 4.3.x). Don’t close the bug yet.


When a release is made which includes the bug fix, make sure the bug is listed in the NEWS file. Once the release is made, fill in the ‘Fixed Release’ field and close the bug.

10 Distributions

Almost all GNU/Linux distributions include findutils, but only some of them have a package maintainer who is a member of the mailing list. Distributions don’t often feed back patches to the list, but on the other hand many of their patches relate only to standards for file locations and so forth, and are therefore distribution specific. On an irregular basis I check the current patches being used by one or two distributions, but the total number of GNU/Linux distributions is large enough that we could not hope to cover them all.

Often, bugs are raised against a distribution’s bug tracker instead of GNU’s. Periodically (about every six months) I take a look at some of the more accessible bug trackers to indicate which bugs have been fixed upstream.

Many distributions include both findutils and the slocate package, which provides a replacement locate.

11 Internationalisation

Translation is essentially automated from the maintainer’s point of view. The TP mails the maintainer when a new PO file is available, and we just download it and check it in. The bootstrap script copies .po files into the working tree. For more information, please see

12 Security

See Security Considerations in The Findutils manual, for a full description of the findutils approach to security considerations and discussion of particular tools.

If someone reports a security bug publicly, we should fix this as rapidly as possible. If necessary, this can mean issuing a fixed release containing just the one bug fix. We try to avoid issuing releases which include both significant security fixes and functional changes.

Where someone reports a security problem privately, we generally try to construct and test a patch without pushing the intermediate code to the public repository.

Once everything has been tested, this allows us to make a release and push the patch. The advantage of doing things this way is that we avoid situations where people watching for git commits can figure out and exploit a security problem before a fixed release is available.

It’s important that security problems be fixed promptly, but don’t rush so much that things go wrong. Make sure the new release really fixes the problem. It’s usually best not to include functional changes in your security-fix release.

If the security problem is serious, send an alert to The members of the list include most GNU/Linux distributions. The point of doing this is to allow them to prepare to release your security fix to their customers, once the fix becomes available. Here is an example alert:-

GNU findutils heap buffer overrun (potential privilege escalation)


GNU findutils is a set of programs which search for files on Unix-like
systems.  It is maintained by the GNU Project of the Free Software
Foundation.  For more information, see


When GNU locate reads filenames from an old-format locate database,
they are read into a fixed-length buffer allocated on the heap.
Filenames longer than the 1026-byte buffer can cause a buffer overrun.
The overrunning data can be chosen by any person able to control the
names of filenames created on the local system.  This will normally
include all local users, but in many cases also remote users (for
example in the case of FTP servers allowing uploads).


Findutils supports three different formats of locate database, its
native format "LOCATE02", the slocate variant of LOCATE02, and a
traditional ("old") format that locate uses on other Unix systems.

When locate reads filenames from a LOCATE02 database (the default
format), the buffer into which data is read is automatically extended
to accommodate the length of the filenames.

This automatic buffer extension does not happen for old-format
databases.  Instead a 1026-byte buffer is used.  When a longer
pathname appears in the locate database, the end of this buffer is
overrun.  The buffer is allocated on the heap (not the stack).

If the locate database is in the default LOCATE02 format, the locate
program does perform automatic buffer extension, and the program is
not vulnerable to this problem.  The software used to build the
old-format locate database is not itself vulnerable to the same

Most installations of GNU findutils do not use the old database
format, and so will not be vulnerable.


All existing releases of findutils are affected.


To discover the longest path name on a given system, you can use the
following command (requires GNU findutils and GNU coreutils):

find / -print0 | tr -c '\0' 'x' | tr '\0' '\n' | wc -L


This section includes a shell script which determines which of a list
of locate binaries is vulnerable to the problem.  The shell script has
been tested only on glibc based systems having a mktemp binary.

NOTE: This script deliberately overruns the buffer in order to
determine if a binary is affected.  Therefore running it on your
system may have undesirable effects.  We recommend that you read the
script before running it.

#! /bin/sh
set +m
if vanilla_db="$(mktemp nicedb.XXXXXX)" ; then
    if updatedb --prunepaths="" --old-format --localpaths="/tmp" \
	--output="$@{vanilla_db@}" ; then
	rm -f "$@{vanilla_db@}"
	echo "Failed to create old-format locate database; skipping the sanity checks" >&2

make_overrun_db() @{
    # Start with a valid database
    cat "$@{vanilla_db@}"
    # Make the final entry really long
    dd if=/dev/zero  bs=1 count=1500 2>/dev/null | tr '\000' 'x'

ulimit -c 0

usage() @{ echo "usage: $0 binary [binary...]" >&2; exit $1; @}
[ $# -eq 0 ] && usage 1

if dbfile="$(mktemp nasty.XXXXXX)"
    make_overrun_db > "$dbfile"
    for locate ; do
      ver="$locate = $("$locate"  --version | head -1)"
      if [ -z "$vanilla_db" ] || "$locate" -d "$vanilla_db" "" >/dev/null ; then
	  "$locate" -d "$dbfile" "" >/dev/null
	  if [ $? -gt 128 ] ; then
vulnerable: $ver"
good: $ver"
	  # the regular locate failed
buggy, may or may not be vulnerable: $ver"
    rm -f "$@{dbfile@}" "$@{vanilla_db@}"
    # good: unaffected.  bad: affected (vulnerable).
    # ugly: doesn't even work for a normal old-format database.
    echo "$good"
    echo "$bad"
    echo "$ugly"
  exit 1


The GNU project discovered the problem while 'locate' was being worked
on; this is the first public announcement of the problem.

The GNU findutils mantainer has issued a patch as p[art of this
announcement.  The patch appears below.

A source release of findutils-4.2.31 will be issued on 2007-05-30.
That release will of course include the patch.  The patch will be
committed to the public CVS repository at the same time.  Public
announcements of the release, including a description of the bug, will
be made at the same time as the release.

A release of findutils-4.3.x will follow and will also include the


This patch should apply to findutils-4.2.23 and later.
Findutils-4.2.23 was released almost two years ago.
Index: locate/locate.c
RCS file: /cvsroot/findutils/findutils/locate/locate.c,v
retrieving revision
diff -u -p -r1.58.2.2 locate.c
--- locate/locate.c	22 Apr 2007 16:57:42 -0000
+++ locate/locate.c	28 May 2007 10:18:16 -0000
@@@@ -124,9 +124,9 @@@@ extern int errno;

 #include "locatedb.h"
 #include <getline.h>
-#include "../gnulib/lib/xalloc.h"
-#include "../gnulib/lib/error.h"
-#include "../gnulib/lib/human.h"
+#include "xalloc.h"
+#include "error.h"
+#include "human.h"
 #include "dirname.h"
 #include "closeout.h"
 #include "nextelem.h"
@@@@ -468,10 +468,36 @@@@ visit_justprint_unquoted(struct process_

+static void
+toolong (struct process_data *procdata)
+  error (EXIT_FAILURE, 0,
+	 _("locate database %s contains a "
+	   "filename longer than locate can handle"),
+	 procdata->dbfile);
+static void
+extend (struct process_data *procdata, size_t siz1, size_t siz2)
+  /* Figure out if the addition operation is safe before performing it. */
+  if (SIZE_MAX - siz1 < siz2)
+    @{
+      toolong (procdata);
+    @}
+  else if (procdata->pathsize < (siz1+siz2))
+    @{
+      procdata->pathsize = siz1+siz2;
+      procdata->original_filename = x2nrealloc (procdata->original_filename,
+						&procdata->pathsize,
+						1);
+    @}
 static int
 visit_old_format(struct process_data *procdata, void *context)
-  register char *s;
+  register size_t i;
   (void) context;

   /* Get the offset in the path where this path info starts.  */
@@@@ -479,20 +505,35 @@@@ visit_old_format(struct process_data *pr
     procdata->count += getw (procdata->fp) - LOCATEDB_OLD_OFFSET;
     procdata->count += procdata->c - LOCATEDB_OLD_OFFSET;
+  assert(procdata->count > 0);

-  /* Overlay the old path with the remainder of the new.  */
-  for (s = procdata->original_filename + procdata->count;
+  /* Overlay the old path with the remainder of the new.  Read
+   * more data until we get to the next filename.
+   */
+  for (i=procdata->count;
        (procdata->c = getc (procdata->fp)) > LOCATEDB_OLD_ESCAPE;)
-    if (procdata->c < 0200)
-      *s++ = procdata->c;		/* An ordinary character.  */
-    else
-      @{
-	/* Bigram markers have the high bit set. */
-	procdata->c &= 0177;
-	*s++ = procdata->bigram1[procdata->c];
-	*s++ = procdata->bigram2[procdata->c];
-      @}
-  *s-- = '\0';
+    @{
+      if (procdata->c < 0200)
+	@{
+	  /* An ordinary character. */
+	  extend (procdata, i, 1u);
+	  procdata->original_filename[i++] = procdata->c;
+	@}
+      else
+	@{
+	  /* Bigram markers have the high bit set. */
+	  extend (procdata, i, 2u);
+	  procdata->c &= 0177;
+	  procdata->original_filename[i++] = procdata->bigram1[procdata->c];
+	  procdata->original_filename[i++] = procdata->bigram2[procdata->c];
+	@}
+    @}
+  /* Consider the case where we executed the loop body zero times; we
+   * still need space for the terminating null byte.
+   */
+  extend (procdata, i, 1u);
+  procdata->original_filename[i] = 0;

   procdata->munged_filename = procdata->original_filename;


Thanks to Rob Holland <> and Tavis Ormandy.


No CVE candidate number has yet been assigned for this vulnerability.
If someone provides one, I will include it in the public announcement
and change logs.

The original announcement above was sent out with a cleartext PGP signature, of course, but that has been omitted from the example.

Once a fixed release is available, announce the new release using the normal channels. Any CVE number assigned for the problem should be included in the ChangeLog and NEWS entries. See for an explanation of CVE numbers.

13 Making Releases

This section will explain how to make a findutils release. For the time being here is a terse description of the main steps:

  1. Commit changes; make sure your working directory has no uncommitted changes.
  2. Update translation files; re-run bootstrap to download the newest ‘.po’ files.
  3. Make sure compiler warnings would block the release; re-run ‘configure’ with the options --enable-compiler-warnings --enable-compiler-warnings-are-errors.
  4. Test; make sure that all changes you have made have tests, and that the tests pass. Verify this with env RUN_EXPENSIVE_TESTS=yes make distcheck.
  5. Bugs; make sure all Savannah bug entries fixed in this release are marked as fixed in Savannah. Optionally close them too to save duplicate work (otherwise, close them after the release is uploaded).
  6. Add new release in Savannah field values; see the Bugs > Edit Field Values menu item. Add a field value for the release you are about to make so that users can report bugs in it.
  7. Update version; make sure that the NEWS file is updated with the new release number (and checked in).
  8. Tag the release; findutils releases are tagged like this for example: v4.5.5. You can create a tag with the a command like this:
    git tag -s -m "Findutils release X.Y.Z" vX.Y.Z
  9. Build the release tarball; do this with make distcheck. Copy the tarball somewhere safe.
  10. Merge; if the release (and signed tag) were made on a local branch, merge the branch to your local master.
  11. Push; push your master to origin/master.
  12. Push the new release tag; assuming that the name of your remote is ‘origin’, this is:
    git push origin tag vX.Y.Z
  13. Prepare the upload and upload it. You can do this with
    build-aux/gnupload --to findutils-X.Y.Z.tar.xz

    Use for an alpha or beta release. See Automated FTP Uploads in Information for Maintainers of GNU Software, for detailed upload instructions.

  14. Check the FTP upload worked; you can look for an email from the robot or check the contents of the actual FTP site.
  15. Make a release announcement; include an extract from the NEWS file which explains what’s changed. Announcements for test releases should just go to Announcements for stable releases should go to as well.
  16. Post-release administrativa: add a new dummy release header in NEWS:

    * Major changes in release ?.?.?, YYYY-MM-DD

    and update the old_NEWS_hash in with make update-NEWS-hash. Commit both changes.

  17. Close bugs; any bugs recorded on Savannah which were fixed in this release should now be marked as closed if there were not already. Update the ‘Fixed Release’ field of these bugs appropriately and make sure the ‘Assigned to’ field is populated.

Appendix A GNU Free Documentation License

Version 1.3, 3 November 2008
Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2008 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

    The purpose of this License is to make a manual, textbook, or other functional and useful document free in the sense of freedom: to assure everyone the effective freedom to copy and redistribute it, with or without modifying it, either commercially or noncommercially. Secondarily, this License preserves for the author and publisher a way to get credit for their work, while not being considered responsible for modifications made by others.

    This License is a kind of “copyleft”, which means that derivative works of the document must themselves be free in the same sense. It complements the GNU General Public License, which is a copyleft license designed for free software.

    We have designed this License in order to use it for manuals for free software, because free software needs free documentation: a free program should come with manuals providing the same freedoms that the software does. But this License is not limited to software manuals; it can be used for any textual work, regardless of subject matter or whether it is published as a printed book. We recommend this License principally for works whose purpose is instruction or reference.


    This License applies to any manual or other work, in any medium, that contains a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it can be distributed under the terms of this License. Such a notice grants a world-wide, royalty-free license, unlimited in duration, to use that work under the conditions stated herein. The “Document”, below, refers to any such manual or work. Any member of the public is a licensee, and is addressed as “you”. You accept the license if you copy, modify or distribute the work in a way requiring permission under copyright law.

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    If the required texts for either cover are too voluminous to fit legibly, you should put the first ones listed (as many as fit reasonably) on the actual cover, and continue the rest onto adjacent pages.

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    You may copy and distribute a Modified Version of the Document under the conditions of sections 2 and 3 above, provided that you release the Modified Version under precisely this License, with the Modified Version filling the role of the Document, thus licensing distribution and modification of the Modified Version to whoever possesses a copy of it. In addition, you must do these things in the Modified Version:

    1. Use in the Title Page (and on the covers, if any) a title distinct from that of the Document, and from those of previous versions (which should, if there were any, be listed in the History section of the Document). You may use the same title as a previous version if the original publisher of that version gives permission.
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    10. Preserve the network location, if any, given in the Document for public access to a Transparent copy of the Document, and likewise the network locations given in the Document for previous versions it was based on. These may be placed in the “History” section. You may omit a network location for a work that was published at least four years before the Document itself, or if the original publisher of the version it refers to gives permission.
    11. For any section Entitled “Acknowledgements” or “Dedications”, Preserve the Title of the section, and preserve in the section all the substance and tone of each of the contributor acknowledgements and/or dedications given therein.
    12. Preserve all the Invariant Sections of the Document, unaltered in their text and in their titles. Section numbers or the equivalent are not considered part of the section titles.
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    14. Do not retitle any existing section to be Entitled “Endorsements” or to conflict in title with any Invariant Section.
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    If the Modified Version includes new front-matter sections or appendices that qualify as Secondary Sections and contain no material copied from the Document, you may at your option designate some or all of these sections as invariant. To do this, add their titles to the list of Invariant Sections in the Modified Version’s license notice. These titles must be distinct from any other section titles.

    You may add a section Entitled “Endorsements”, provided it contains nothing but endorsements of your Modified Version by various parties—for example, statements of peer review or that the text has been approved by an organization as the authoritative definition of a standard.

    You may add a passage of up to five words as a Front-Cover Text, and a passage of up to 25 words as a Back-Cover Text, to the end of the list of Cover Texts in the Modified Version. Only one passage of Front-Cover Text and one of Back-Cover Text may be added by (or through arrangements made by) any one entity. If the Document already includes a cover text for the same cover, previously added by you or by arrangement made by the same entity you are acting on behalf of, you may not add another; but you may replace the old one, on explicit permission from the previous publisher that added the old one.

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    You may combine the Document with other documents released under this License, under the terms defined in section 4 above for modified versions, provided that you include in the combination all of the Invariant Sections of all of the original documents, unmodified, and list them all as Invariant Sections of your combined work in its license notice, and that you preserve all their Warranty Disclaimers.

    The combined work need only contain one copy of this License, and multiple identical Invariant Sections may be replaced with a single copy. If there are multiple Invariant Sections with the same name but different contents, make the title of each such section unique by adding at the end of it, in parentheses, the name of the original author or publisher of that section if known, or else a unique number. Make the same adjustment to the section titles in the list of Invariant Sections in the license notice of the combined work.

    In the combination, you must combine any sections Entitled “History” in the various original documents, forming one section Entitled “History”; likewise combine any sections Entitled “Acknowledgements”, and any sections Entitled “Dedications”. You must delete all sections Entitled “Endorsements.”


    You may make a collection consisting of the Document and other documents released under this License, and replace the individual copies of this License in the various documents with a single copy that is included in the collection, provided that you follow the rules of this License for verbatim copying of each of the documents in all other respects.

    You may extract a single document from such a collection, and distribute it individually under this License, provided you insert a copy of this License into the extracted document, and follow this License in all other respects regarding verbatim copying of that document.


    A compilation of the Document or its derivatives with other separate and independent documents or works, in or on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, is called an “aggregate” if the copyright resulting from the compilation is not used to limit the legal rights of the compilation’s users beyond what the individual works permit. When the Document is included in an aggregate, this License does not apply to the other works in the aggregate which are not themselves derivative works of the Document.

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    Translation is considered a kind of modification, so you may distribute translations of the Document under the terms of section 4. Replacing Invariant Sections with translations requires special permission from their copyright holders, but you may include translations of some or all Invariant Sections in addition to the original versions of these Invariant Sections. You may include a translation of this License, and all the license notices in the Document, and any Warranty Disclaimers, provided that you also include the original English version of this License and the original versions of those notices and disclaimers. In case of a disagreement between the translation and the original version of this License or a notice or disclaimer, the original version will prevail.

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    Each version of the License is given a distinguishing version number. If the Document specifies that a particular numbered version of this License “or any later version” applies to it, you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that specified version or of any later version that has been published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document specifies that a proxy can decide which future versions of this License can be used, that proxy’s public statement of acceptance of a version permanently authorizes you to choose that version for the Document.


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ADDENDUM: How to use this License for your documents

To use this License in a document you have written, include a copy of the License in the document and put the following copyright and license notices just after the title page:

  Copyright (C)  year  your name.
  Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
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If you have Invariant Sections, Front-Cover Texts and Back-Cover Texts, replace the “with…Texts.” line with this:

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If you have Invariant Sections without Cover Texts, or some other combination of the three, merge those two alternatives to suit the situation.

If your document contains nontrivial examples of program code, we recommend releasing these examples in parallel under your choice of free software license, such as the GNU General Public License, to permit their use in free software.