Coding style

Russ Allbery rra at
Wed Sep 8 21:40:21 UTC 1999

Matthias Urlichs <smurf at> writes:

> IMHO, I'd rather have the source wholly _tab_ified. That way, people can
> choose for themselves how far to indent everything and there won't be
> merge problems for everybody.

There will be serious merge problems for me, because my editor has been
configured to never insert a tab.

After having code come out totally wrong on a printer or on someone else's
screen or get its indentation completely mangled because it was written by
someone with eight-space tabs and then edited by someone with two-space
tabs who forgot to use a tab and used spaces and then passed it along to
someone with four-space tabs...  Never again.

You can make it work if you have really tight control over the whitespace
insertion styles used by all of your coders and you don't do things like
send patches through e-mail or cut and paste from xterms.  But I don't
think that we're in that situation.

> The Linux coding standards document has this to say on the topic, and
> FWIW I agree wholeheartedly:

With all due respect to Linus, who writes very clean code, I really
dislike his indentation style.  It's different from what most other people
use and while I think he's got a good idea in trying to get people not to
write extremely nested code and instead move it off into functions, when
you try to retrofit that to an existing project where that *hasn't*
historically been done, the code gets remarkably uglier.

Russ Allbery (rra at         <URL:>

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