Solaris serviceability and nifty tools

strsep() in libc

As of today, strsep() function lives
in Nevada's libc (tracked by CR 4383867 and PSARC 2008/305). This constitutes another step in
the quest for more feature-full (in terms of compatibility) libc in OpenSolaris. In binary form, the changes will be available
in build 99. The documentation will be part of the string(3C) man page.

Here's a small example of how to use it:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <err.h>
int parse(const char \*str) {
char \*p = NULL;
char \*inputstring, \*origstr;
int ret = 1;
if (str == NULL)
errx(1, "NULL string");
\* We have to remember original pointer because strsep()
\* will change 'inputstr' pointer.
if ((origstr = inputstring = strdup(str)) == NULL)
errx(1, "strdup() failed");
printf("=== parsing '%s'\\n", inputstring);
for ((p = strsep(&inputstring, ",")); p != NULL;
(p = strsep(&inputstring, ","))) {
if (p != NULL && \*p != '\\0')
printf("%s\\n", p);
else if (p != NULL) {
warnx("syntax error");
ret = 0;
goto bad;
printf("=== finished parsing\\n");
return (ret);
int main(int argc, char \*argv[]) {
if (argc != 2)
errx(1, "usage: prog ");
if (!parse(argv[1]))
return (0);

This example was actually used as a unit test (use e.g. "1,22,33,44" and "1,22,,44,33" as input string)
and it also nicely illustrates important properties of strsep() behavior:

  • While searching for tokens, strsep() modifies the original string. This is shared property with strtok().

  • Unlike strtok(), strsep() is able to detect empty fields.

There is a function in Solaris' libc which can do token splitting and does not modify the original string - strcspn().
The other notable property of strsep() is that (unlike strtok()) it does not conform to ANSI-C. Time to draw a table:

 function(s)   ISO C90    modifies     detects
input empty fields
strsep() No Yes Yes
strtok() Yes Yes No
strcspn() Yes No Sort of

None of the above functions is bullet-proof. The bottom line is the user should decide which is the most
suitable for given task and use it with its properties in mind.

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