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BGrep and BDiff UNIX Tools for High Level Languages Extended Abstract 1 Dartmouth Computer Science Technical Report TR2011 705 Version of September 17 2011 Gabriel A Weaver and Sean W Smith2 Dartmouth College Abstract The rise in high level languages for system administrators requires us to rethink traditional UNIX tools designed for these older data formats We propose new block oriented tools bgrep and bdiff operating on syntactic blocks of code rather than the line the traditional information container of UNIX Transcending the line number allows us to introduce longitudinal diff a mode of bdiff that lets us track changes across arbitrary blocks of code We present a detailed implementation roadmap and evaluation framework for the full version of this paper In addition we demonstrate how the design of our tools already addresses several real world problems faced by network administrators to maintain security policy Keywords UNIX configuration management security policy 1 Introduction High level languages for system administrators are increasingly on the rise over flat file or line based formats Traditional UNIX tools however are geared towards these old file paradigms In light of the variety of modern programming languages available to system and network administrators and given the success and utility of grep and diff we adapt and extend grep and diff for this new programming ecosystem Our new tools operate on syntactic blocks of code and text as the default information container in contrast to traditional tools that treat the line as the default Syntactic blocks often correspond to meaningful higherlevel constructs ranging from a network interface in Cisco IOS to a VirtualHost in Apache to a section of text within a normative reference document such as an IETF RFC Our block based grep gives adminstrators a general mechanism to extract blocks of text or code that match simple context free patterns Similarly our block based diff empowers administrators to compare



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