Regex driving me crazy...

Kushal Kumaran kushal.kumaran+python at
Thu Apr 8 07:16:04 CEST 2010

On Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 3:10 AM, J <dreadpiratejeff at> wrote:
> 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.

Is there any particular reason you absolutely must extract the status
message?  If you already have a list of possible status messages, you
could just test which one of those is present in the line...

> 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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