[Python-Dev] Bytes path support

Marko Rauhamaa marko at pacujo.net
Wed Aug 20 07:52:19 CEST 2014

Guido van Rossum <guido at python.org>:

> With my serious hat on, I would like to claim that *conceptually*
> filenames are most definitely text. Due to various historical
> accidents the UNIX system calls often encoded text as arguments, and
> we sometimes need to control that encoding.

Due to historical accidents, text (in the Python sense) is not a
first-class data type in Unix. Text, machine language, XML, Python etc
are interpretations of bytes. Bytes are the first-class data type
recognized by the kernel. That reality cannot be wished away.

> Hence the occasional need for bytes arguments. But most of the time
> you don't have to think about that, and forcing users to worry about
> it is mostly as counter-productive as forcing to think about the
> encoding of every text file.

The users of Python programs can often be given higher-level facades.
Unix programmers, though, shouldn't be shielded from bytes.


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