[TUHS] C question for the historians

Warner Losh imp at bsdimp.com
Thu Nov 9 02:27:39 AEST 2017

On Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 9:17 AM, Arthur Krewat <krewat at kilonet.net> wrote:

> From a mailing list I belong to, a back-and-forth is going on that I am
> not involved in. The following sums it up nicely:
> It's really the implied equality that's the problem.  For example:
>>     if (flags & DLADM_OPT_PERSIST) {
>> would be better written as:
>>     if ((flags & DLADM_OPT_PERSIST) == 0) {
No it wouldn't. That would be a bug. s/==/!=/ there and you might be right.
Except code reviews that make such 'crazy' suggestions often do more to
introduce bugs than prevent future bugs.

But even then, there's a time and place for testing against zero,
especially in code that has complicated bit testing, where you only want to
proceed if a subset of bits are set and others are clear. Or if you are
mixing boolean and flags, it can be clearer.

Or do the Linux-school and go with

    if (!!(flags & DLADM_OPT_PERSIST)) {

to really confuse things...

Seriously? What do (or would) "original C" programmers think of this? To
> me, anything non-zero is "true" so the first is perfectly acceptable.

Acceptable to the compiler sure. But if you use the different forms to
convey information to the reader, then you might choose something slightly

For pointers, say, you have the choice of the following forms:

if (foo)
if (!foo)
if (foo == NULL)
if (foo != NULL)
if (foo == 0)
if (foo != 0)

The middle two remind the reader that foo is a pointer, while the first two
might slightly suggest that from other context near by. The last one,
though technically correct, suggest the original author may be confusing
pointers and ints, even though its 100% legal C in every single properly
implemented C compiler (even if the native representation of a null-pointer
has bits set). It also spurs even more bogus comments that it is wrong on
exotic architectures because someone wants to appear to be smart, but is
actually being wrong, or reporting a situation where a compiler that
purports to be a C compiler is actually implementing a different language
that is only superficially similar to C.

> The original assertion in the discussion was that the following is not
> "right" because of the mixing of bitwise and boolean.
> if ((flags & DLADM_OPT_PERSIST) && (link_flags & DLMGMT_PERSIST)) {
Wow! That's grade a crazy they are smoking. That's not a rule in C, and not
even a widely followed 'kool-aide kult kode" practice, but there's so many
different cults, it's hard to keep up.

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