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Several reasons why debian should not use bash for /bin/sh

  I'm new to debian but I'm not new to either unix or linux.  I recently
installed debian on my laptop.  On my prior linux setup, I had pdksh as
/bin/sh.  While I sometimes had problems with scripts, I never ran into
showstoppers.  When I made ash or pdksh /bin/sh on my debian setup, things
stopped working.  I consider this to be a serious problem with debian.

  I can think of many reasons why bash should not be used as /bin/sh:

Size:  bash is much larger than any of the simpler Bourne compatible 
       shells.  From cold boot to prompt, I typically have an extra
       megabyte or more available memory if I use ash or pdksh instead
       of bash.

Speed: bash is much slower than ash or pdksh.  From init scripts to 
       cron or day to day shell scripts, /bin/sh gets run many thousands
       of times.  Because bash is slower, this results in a slower
       feeling machine.  For example my computer boots noticeably faster
       when I use pdksh or ash instead of bash.

Safety: Bash, at least in the debian installation I've installed, is linked
       against 5 libraries (readline, curses, dl, c and ld-linux).  If
       any one of these libraries gets hosed, /bin/sh stops working and
       this effectively kills the system.  A smaller, simpler shell would
       be less vulnerable to library problems.

Compatibility: People are tempted to (and in fact do) write scripts that
       use bash specific extensions when explicitly calling /bin/sh.  
       On all other unix systems, /bin/sh does not have bash specific
       extensions.  This means that work that could be useful in other 
       unixes gets trapped in a linux/debian world because the scripts
       stop working.  For example, I make my money by taking care of 
       Solaris 2.x and HP-UX 9/10.x machines.  I would love to be able 
       to use debian packages (if they existed) on my machines.  I might
       even get my boss to pay money for such things.  I will not, 
       however, change /bin/sh on any system to be bash.

  I have heard a number of people here say "ksh is not Bourne shell 
compatible".  This is nonsense.  The Korn shell is not *bash* compatible,
but that does not mean that it is not *borne shell* compatible.  Bash,
the posix shell, and ksh all implement a complete Bourne shell environment.
Each has its own enhancements to this Bourne shell environment, which are
not guaranteed to be compatible with the other Bourne shells.  /bin/sh is
only ever guaranteed to be a traditional Bourne shell.  On some unixes, you
may get the posix shell, which is mostly ksh.  On linux machines, you
typically get bash.  But on some, you only get traditional Bourne shell. 
Any script that needs an extension that is not in traditional Bourne shell
but which calls /bin/sh is buggy and should be fixed.

 Chris Ulrich        cdulrich@ucdavis.edu        530 754 4355

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