sort command does not work as expected in RHEL 6 when obsolete key format is used

Solution Unverified - Updated -

Environment

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6
  • package coreutils, version < 8.4-19.el6_4.2

Issue

sort on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6 does not behave as expected when obsolete key format is used, as incorrect output is produced.

Resolution

Update package coreutils to 8.4-19.el6_4.2 (released with RHBA-2013-0858) or to a later version, which solves this issue. This fix is already included in RHEL 6.5 and later.

Root Cause

When parsing the file content and the end of a field was specified using the obsolete key formats (+POS -POS), the sort utility determined the end of the field incorrectly, and therefore produced incorrect output. This was a regression between RHEL 5 and RHEL 6.

Diagnostic Steps

Sorting a file with the following lines produces incorrect output on RHEL 6:

a b e
a b c

The following command returns 2 lines on RHEL 6, while on RHEL 5, the same command returns a single line abc which is the expected result:

$ sort -u -2 0 file

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