25.1.1 Program Argument Syntax Conventions
POSIX recommends these conventions for command line arguments.
getopt (see Parsing program options using
argp_parse (see Parsing Program Options with Argp) make
it easy to implement them.
- Arguments are options if they begin with a hyphen delimiter (‘-’).
- Multiple options may follow a hyphen delimiter in a single token if
the options do not take arguments. Thus, ‘-abc’ is equivalent to
‘-a -b -c’.
- Option names are single alphanumeric characters (as for
see Classification of Characters).
- Certain options require an argument. For example, the ‘-o’ command
ld command requires an argument—an output file name.
- An option and its argument may or may not appear as separate tokens. (In
other words, the whitespace separating them is optional.) Thus,
‘-o foo’ and ‘-ofoo’ are equivalent.
- Options typically precede other non-option arguments.
The implementations of
argp_parse in the GNU C Library
normally make it appear as if all the option arguments were
specified before all the non-option arguments for the purposes of
parsing, even if the user of your program intermixed option and
non-option arguments. They do this by reordering the elements of the
argv array. This behavior is nonstandard; if you want to suppress
it, define the
_POSIX_OPTION_ORDER environment variable.
See Standard Environment Variables.
- The argument ‘--’ terminates all options; any following arguments
are treated as non-option arguments, even if they begin with a hyphen.
- A token consisting of a single hyphen character is interpreted as an
ordinary non-option argument. By convention, it is used to specify
input from or output to the standard input and output streams.
- Options may be supplied in any order, or appear multiple times. The
interpretation is left up to the particular application program.
GNU adds long options to these conventions. Long options consist
of ‘--’ followed by a name made of alphanumeric characters and
dashes. Option names are typically one to three words long, with
hyphens to separate words. Users can abbreviate the option names as
long as the abbreviations are unique.
To specify an argument for a long option, write
‘--name=value’. This syntax enables a long option to
accept an argument that is itself optional.
Eventually, GNU systems will provide completion for long option names
in the shell.