Regex driving me crazy...

J dreadpiratejeff at
Wed Apr 7 17:40:32 EDT 2010

Can someone make me un-crazy?

I have a bit of code that right now, looks like this:

status = getoutput('smartctl -l selftest /dev/sda').splitlines()[6]
        status = re.sub(' (?= )(?=([^"]*"[^"]*")*[^"]*$)', ":",status)
        print status

Basically, it pulls the first actual line of data from the return you
get when you use smartctl to look at a hard disk's selftest log.

The raw data looks like this:

# 1  Short offline       Completed without error       00%       679         -

Unfortunately, all that whitespace is arbitrary single space
characters.  And I am interested in the string that appears in the
third column, which changes as the test runs and then completes.  So
in the example, "Completed without error"

The regex I have up there doesn't quite work, as it seems to be
subbing EVERY space (or at least in instances of more than one space)
to a ':' like this:

# 1: Short offline:::::: Completed without error:::::: 00%:::::: 679:::::::: -

Ultimately, what I'm trying to do is either replace any space that is
> one space wiht a delimiter, then split the result into a list and
get the third item.

OR, if there's a smarter, shorter, or better way of doing it, I'd love to know.

The end result should pull the whole string in the middle of that
output line, and then I can use that to compare to a list of possible
output strings to determine if the test is still running, has
completed successfully, or failed.

Unfortunately, my google-fu fails right now, and my Regex powers were
always rather weak anyway...

So any ideas on what the best way to proceed with this would be?

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