bin/142911: [patch] vmstat(8) -w should produce error message if fed a negative value

Bruce Evans brde at
Mon Jan 18 04:00:22 UTC 2010

The following reply was made to PR bin/142911; it has been noted by GNATS.

From: Bruce Evans <brde at>
To: "Efstratios Karatzas <gpf.kira at>" <gpf.kira at>
Cc: freebsd-gnats-submit at, freebsd-bugs at
Subject: Re: bin/142911: [patch] vmstat(8) -w should produce error message
 if fed a negative value
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 2010 14:55:41 +1100 (EST)

 On Sun, 17 Jan 2010, Efstratios Karatzas <gpf.kira at> wrote:
 >> Description:
 > vmstat(8) -w should produce an error message and exit when fed a negative numerical value or a non numerical value at all, in which case atoi simply returns 0. This is the way iostat(8) handles this situation.
 > If we do not check for a negative value, then the negative value we are fed becomes an extremely large unsigned int and the thread will sleep(3) for a long time indeed.
 Please use line lengths of considerably less than 168 characters.  I'm
 editing this with a slightly wrong $TERMCAP and the line wrap from the
 long lines is even more horrible than usual.
 There is another bad atoi() for the wait interval, in the
 BACKWARD_COMPATIBILITY ifdef, which is a non-optional option.
 There are other bad atoi()s in the file.  One has a bounds check and neither
 has a type error to break negative values.
 >> Fix:
 > apply my patch, all we need is a simple check if the value is less than 1. This way an error message also occurs if we could not parse a number, since the return value in that case is 0.
 -w 0 used to sort of work -- it was equivalent to not specifying an
 interval.  Maybe some scripts or fingers depend on this.  Probably lots
 still depends on the undocumented BACKWARD_COMPATIBILITY behaviour
 (vmstat 1 == vmstat -w 1), so this non-optional option can never be
 The other bad atoi()s don't use this trick, so they give a garbage result
 for parse errors.

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