Admin Linux SLES

How to Get By Without unix2dos in SLES

As a Unix old-timer looking at the latest releases, I only have observed one tendency – that of ever-increasing numbers of commands, always additive – until now. A command I considered useful (well, basically any command I have ever used I consider useful) has gone AWOL in Suse Linux Enterprise Server (SLES for short): unix2dos.

Why You Need It
These days you need it more than ever. What with sftp being used in place of ftp, your transferred text files will come over from a SLES server to your PC in binary mode, preserving the Linux-style way of declaring a new line with the newline character, “\n”. Bring that file onto your PC and look at it in Notepad and you’ll get one long line because Windows requires more to indicate a new line. Windows OS’s like Windows 7 require a carriage return + newline, i.e., “\r\n”.

Who You Going to Call
I spoke with some experts so I cannot take credit for finding this out personally. Long story short things evolved and there is a more sophisticated command available that does this sort of thing and much else. That’s recode.

But I don’t think I’ll ever use recode for anything else so I decided to re-create a unix2dos command using recode in a tiny shell script:

# inspired by and the fact that they took away this useful command
# 3/6/12
recode latin1..ibmpc $*

You call it like this:

> unix2dos file

and it overwrites the file and converts it to the format Windows expects.

My other expert contact says I could find the old unix2dos in OpenSuse but I decided not to go that route.

Of course to convert in the other direction you have dos2unix which for some reason wasn’t removed from the distro. Strange, huh?

How to See That It Worked
I use

> od -c file|more

to look at the ascii characters in a text file. It also shows the newline and carriage return characters with a \n and \r respectively This is a good command to know because it is also a “safe” way to look at a binary file. By safe I mean it won’t try to print out 8-bit characters that will permanently mess your terminal settings!

2017 update
I finally needed this utility again after five years. My program doesn’t work on CentOS. – No recode, whatever that was. However, the one-liner provided in the comments worked just fine for me.

We can rest easy and send text files back-and-forth between a PC and a SLES server with the help of this unix2dos script we developed.

Interestingly, RedHat’s RHEL has kept unix2dos in its disrtibution. Good for them. In ubuntu Linux unix2dos also seems decidedly missing.

2 replies on “How to Get By Without unix2dos in SLES”

You can also use old friendly vim to do the trick like:
vim +’e ++ff=dos | wq’ myfile.txt

In my ~ /.profile I added the following command:
alias unix2dos=”vim +’e ++ff=dos | wq'”

Log out and log in again into Linux and you can now use:
unix2dos myfile.txt

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