[llvm-dev] RFC: Support for preferring paths with forward slashes on Windows

Fangrui Song via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Thu Oct 14 21:56:02 PDT 2021

On 2021-10-14, Martin Storsjö via llvm-dev wrote:
>When using Clang on Windows as a drop-in replacement for GCC, one 
>issue that crops up fairly soon is that not all callers can tolerate 
>paths spelled out with backslashes.
>This is an issue when e.g. libtool parses the output of "$CC -v" 
>(where clang passes an absolute path to compiler-rt libraries) and 
>uses parts of that in shell script contexts that don't tolerate 
>backslashes, when some callers call "$CC --print-search-dirs", etc.
>This is also one of the most important things that MSYS2 patches in 
>their distribution of Clang/LLVM according to their patch tracker [1].
>(I've locally worked around this in my distribution without patching, 
>by filtering clang's stdout in a wrapper, when options like "-v" or 
>"--print-search-dirs" are detected, but that's essentially the same as 
>I've finally taken the plunge and tried to implement this properly. 
>I've got a decent patch set [2] that I could start sending for review, 
>but before doing that, I'd like to discuss the overall design.
>The main idea is that I add a third alternative to path::Style - in 
>addition to the existing Windows and Posix path styles, I'm adding 
>Windows_forward, which otherwise parses and handles Windows paths like 
>before (i.e. accepting and interpreting both separators), but with a 
>different preferred separator (as returned by get_separator()).
>This allows any code on any platform to handle paths in all three 
>forms, just like in the existing design, when explicitly giving a 
>path::Style argument.
>To actually make it have effect, one can make path::Style::native act 
>like Windows_forward instead of plain Windows. I'm not entirely sure 
>what the best strategy is for when to do that - one could do it when 
>LLVM itself was built for a MinGW target (which kind of breaks the 
>assumption that the tools work pretty much the same as long as one 
>passes the right --target options etc), or one could maybe set it up 
>as a configure time CMake option? Or even make it a globally settable 
>option in the process, to allow changing it e.g. depending on the 
>tool's target configuration?
>I also faintly remember that Reid at some point implied that it could 
>be an option to switch all Windows builds outright to such a 
>Most of the code is entirely independent of the policy decision of 
>when/where to enable the behaviour - the decision is centralised to 
>one single spot in LLVMSupport.
>In any case, with this design and a quite moderate amount of fixups, 
>most of the tests in check-all seem to pass, if switching the 
>There's a couple tests that fail due to checking e.g. the literal 
>paths %s or %t (as output by llvm-lit, with backslashes) against paths 
>that the tools output. There's also a dozen or so of tests in Clang 
>(mainly regarding PCH) that seem to misbehave when the same paths are 
>referred to with varying kinds of slashes, e.g. stored with a forward 
>slash in the PCH but referred to with backslashes in arguments to 
>Clang, where paths are essentially equal but the strings differ. (For 
>actual use with PCH, Clang built this way seems to work - and MSYS2 
>have been running with tools patched this way for quite some time, and 
>I haven't heard about reports about bugs relating to that patch.)
>If the design seems sane (have a look at [2] if you want to have a 
>look at my whole series at the moment) I'd start sending the initial 
>patches for review.
>// Martin
>[1] https://github.com/msys2/MINGW-packages/blob/master/mingw-w64-clang/README-patches.md
>[2] https://github.com/llvm/llvm-project/compare/main...mstorsjo:path-separator

Big thanks to you for making investigation in this area!

clang/test/Driver tests suffer the most from Windows backslashes.  MC and
DebugInfo suffer a bit as well.
I have seen so many times a new test did not pass on Windows and a fixup follow-up was needed.
Sometimes the author may adjust the test and slighly degrade the test
quality if they cannot figure out the best way supporting both / and \
(using {{/|\\\\}} multiple times on one line could clutter up).

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