Copyright © 1997-2015,2016 by Thomas E. Dickey


As of August 2014, I have nearly 2000 scripts in my bin-directory, totalling more than 100,000 lines. Those are distinct from scripts which I bundle with various programs. A few are modified versions of scripts written by others. Some of the scripts may be of interest to others.


There are several general-purpose scripts:


Construct a gzip'd (or compress'd) tar file.
Run as unarchive, it reverses the process.

archive was originally written by Charles Van Gale, a system administrator at the Software Productivity Consortium in 1989 or 1990. I extended it to make the resulting tarball have a timestamp matching the newest file (using cpd), as well as using gzip or bzip2 compression:

the script...


A script that combines diffstat and makepatch.


script to show which symbols are exported from a collection of object files


display all external symbols used by a collection of object files


run "make", redirecting output to make.out.
If linked or renamed to make-log, it writes to make.log.


script (originally by Johan Vromans) used for making patch-files.
I have modified it to sort the old/new lists to avoid confusing '/' with filename stuff.


like which, but provides the dual use of showing the path and showing details about the arguments. The conflict program is related.


run a command, redirecting output to run.out.
If linked or renamed to run-log, it writes to run.log.


The original intent of this page was to provide sample scripts for building programs. Since then, I have written scripts for routine builds of the programs which I develop, as well as for managing releases and updating this website.

These are some of the scripts that I use in configuring, building and saving the logfiles from building programs on multiple platforms. A complete set of configure- and make-logs is useful for bug reporting.


Each program has its own set of build-scripts. Sample scripts for the larger programs are included in the download. I use scripts named for the various programs (XXX in the following sections).

Though the oldest of these scripts (for saving build-logs from dbmalloc) dates back to 1995, they have evolved in stages. Initially, I would do test-builds and, after verifying the results, possibly discard the logs. However, for several years I have collected the logs, adding them to my source repository to compare.

As of January 2016, I have 5488 log-files (with 383 marked to denote systems where I can no longer build). Some builds produce multiple log-files, and I have build-scripts for about 50 programs. There are also a lot of machines to build with.


Build the program (within its working directory), with the most common configuration(s). As part of the process, install and uninstall the program (to a location in the build-tree).


Repeat the build-XXX script for a given program, using different compilers and/or warning levels. Depending on the platform, this may execute other scripts to build “.deb” (Debian), RPM packages, NSIS installers or Solaris packages.


Build a given program, use the options from the corresponding all-opts-XXX script, one at a time, to build the program.


These remove the files from a build within the given program's working directory.


I use these scripts to save logfiles after doing a build. They all assume that there is a parallel directory of the same name, e.g., ../save-vile, next to the current directory. The current directory is the top of the build tree.

In particular (making them useful for bug-reports), they save the results from the configure script, along with log-files that are created using the cfg-XXX and build-XXX scripts for the corresponding programs.

Where possible, I parameterized these scripts to make a reusable core. These scripts provide the reusable parts:

Compiler wrappers

Along with the build-scripts, I use wrappers for gcc to turn on compiler warnings, as well as scripts for other compilers. They are included in the build-scripts, since that is where they are most used.


This provides what should be the minimal options for gcc to ensure that C functions are prototyped. I added it in 1995 at the same time that I added gcc-strict. Before that, I was likely to just edit the makefile, not thinking that it would be simpler to make a wrapper script.

the script...


This script adds gcc options to compile for 64-bits. When I added it in 2009, it was still common to have compilers on a nominally 64-bit platform such as Solaris default to compiling 32-bit code.


I made this script, incorporating some posting by Fergus Henderson, e.g., this one to from 1994.

the script...


Later, I was told about the gcc "fortify" option. Rather than modify the options in gcc-strict, I added this script.

the script...

Configuration scripts

Configure script wrappers containing configure options for specific programs are (usually) named for those programs, e.g.,

I am able to cross-compile to MinGW on several machines. There is no consensus on what directories those cross-compilers use. These scripts help:

Reporting Problems

If you have a machine that I've not ported to, and have problems building one of the programs that I maintain, I will require the relevant information:

A uuencoded or mime'd gzip'd/tar file is preferred, because the logfiles can be awkward to email. Mailing uncompressed log-files also has the drawback that they may be rejected on mailing lists.


These scripts are for more specialized uses.


remake an object file, reporting differences. The reference (first compile) is saved in the OBJ subdirectory.


Like path, show information about the user's CLASSPATH environment variable (which controls linking and loading of Java classes.

If no arguments given, this script displays the names of the directories in the class-path. If argument is given, it is assumed to be either a class name (e.g., "String"), or a jar-file.

All matching names are displayed; the first is the one that will be loaded.

Options (arguments beginning with "-") are passed to 'ls'.


Process one or more patch files, using diffstat's -C (color) option to markup the files (with SGR). We want to modify those so they all use reverse-video (since colored text is too hard to read), and produce html. To make the result a little more flexible, use the diffstat.css stylesheet.

The script expects one of two parameter conventions:

  1. patch-file, simply process with diffstat

  2. two directories as parameters, to pass those to diffstat using -S/-D


Search for patterns that (might be) broken defines


Search for patterns that (might be) casts.


Search for patterns that might be dates.


Search for patterns that (might be) ifdefs.


Search for patterns that (might be) K&R function declarations.


Search for patterns that (might be) numbers.


Edit the output of ldd for the given parameters, yielding only the absolute pathnames.

I use this script with less to remove temporary files.

I use this script with less to open special files.


Displays information about the user's LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable (which controls linking and loading of dynamic libraries.

If no arguments given, this script displays the names of the directories in the library-path. If argument is given, it is assumed to be a library name (e.g., "c" for -lc). All matching names are displayed; the first is the one that will be loaded.

Options (arguments beginning with "-") are passed to 'ls'.


Construct a manifest from the RCS description lines for the selected (symbolic) version. The script assumes that the following files are automatically generated from scripts:

MANIFEST – from this script
configure – from autoconf (, aclocal.m4)
config.h – from configure

Other files are all managed via RCS, and are present in a release only if they have had symbolic revisions added for that release.


Compares the elements of an archive file, showing which are different or missing from one archive.


Run command without /usr/local in environment.


Strip leading "." from PATH to execute a command.


Strip environment, e.g., as if running in cron, and run a command.


Strip locale environment-variables, i.e., leaving only POSIX, and run a command.


Strip all terminfo/termcap variables from environment, run command.


Remove makefile target (e.g., an object file) and run make to recreate it.


Strips ANSI escape sequences and reduces backspace/overstrikes.
The script uses POSIX sed, which means that only BREs (Basic Regular Expressions) are permitted.
I have tested this with FreeBSD 10, OpenBSD 5.3, Solaris 10 as well as Debian 6 and later:

Here are two examples, using "cat -v" to make the nonprinting characters visible:


Recursively touch (change timestamps) on directories to reflect the newest file inside the directory. I use this for tidying up source-trees, e.g., as in the “-t” option of archive (which uses cpd).

the script...

Here are a few links which I found when looking for comparable scripts or programs:

Oddly, most applications in this area simply update the directories (and files) to the current date.


Run a command with the given locale. The first parameter is the locale to use. The remaining parameters are the command to run.

Other Scripts

Here are some scripts written by others which I have modified.
In particular, those using a restrictive license (e.g., GPL) are not bundled with the others:


This is a slightly-modified copy of altchars by John H. Dubois III (from here). The original script carries forward a documentation error from AT&T, for the lantern pseudo-graphics character which was fixed in ncurses in 1997 as a result of work on lynx.


Starting in 2000 (for ncurses Ada95 binding), I have modified this script to make the generated HTML validate, as well as to use CSS. (The script is originally from gnat, but unmaintained).


I use linklint, but (see this) it has been unmaintained since around 2001. For example, see the Debian bug-reporting system. As of early 2016, I have fixed most of the problems which affect me:


This is an improved version of Earl Hood's man2html Perl script (see my expanded page on the topic).


I modified this script in 2003 (it was originally from emacs, but unmaintained):


This is a wrapper for rpm2cpio which makes it easier to use. There actually is more than one script named “unrpm” this is the best-known, and was seen in a posting to the fedora-legacy mailing list in 2004, stating that it came from the fedora-rpmdevtools package. According to the package's changelog, it was removed in 2005.


This is useful for xterm testing, found in Debian #588785 (from


The scripts on this page are a small subset of my collection. I use (predictably) another script to put together the tarballs as well as creating the changelogs on this page (with the help of rcs2log).

The "RCS_BASE" comment denotes the initial check-in using my RCS wrappers. Those preserve the modification time of the file, which in some cases predates the system where I keep these files.

In a few cases (such as path), I had created the script several years before. However, when I left the Software Productivity Consortium, I did not make a copy of the RCS archive for my general-purpose scripts (unlike ded and its friends). When moving to different projects, path is something that I need immediately; the source-controlled version tends to lag.