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I just noticed that on one of my machines (running Debian Sid) whenever I type

ls
any file name with spaces has single quotes surrounding it.

I immediately checked my aliases, only to find them intact.

wyatt@debian630:~/testdirls 'test 1.txt'  test1.txt wyatt@debian630:~/testdir alias
alias ls='ls --color=auto'
alias wget='wget --content-disposition'
wyatt@debian630:~/testdir</pre></div><!-- /wp:codemirror-blocks/code-block --> <!-- wp:paragraph --><a href="https://i.stack.imgur.com/PfOHF.png" rel="nofollow noreferrer">(picture)</a><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph -->Another test, with files containing single quotes in their names (also answering a request by jimmij):<!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:codemirror-blocks/code-block {"showPanel":false,"languageLabel":"no","mode":"clike","mime":"text\/x-c++src"} --> 			<div class="wp-block-codemirror-blocks-code-block code-block"><pre>wyatt@debian630:~/testdir ls
'test 1.txt'  test1.txt  'thishasasinglequotehere'''.txt'
wyatt@debian630:~/testdirtouch "'test 1.txt'" wyatt@debian630:~/testdir ls
''''test 1.txt''''  test1.txt
'test 1.txt'          'thishasasinglequotehere'''.txt'

(picture)

update with new coreutils-8.26 output (which is admittedly much less confusing, but still irritating to have by default). Thanks to Pádraig Brady for this printout:

ls "'test 1.txt'"   test1.txt 'test 1.txt'    "thishasasinglequotehere'.txt" ls -N
'test 1.txt'  test1.txt
test 1.txt    thishasasinglequotehere'.txt

Why is this happening? How do I stop it properly?

to clarify, I myself set ls to automatically color output. It never put quotes around things before.

I’m running

bash
and coreutils 8.25.

EDIT: Appears the coreutils developers thought (link) it would be a good idea to make that a global default despite breaking the principle of least astonishment as well as 46+ years of UNIX tradition.

Any way to fix this without a recompile?


UPDATE – October 2017 – Debian Sid has re-enabled the shell escape quoting by default. https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=877582

And at the bottom of the reply chain to the previous bug report, "the change was intentional and will remain." https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=813164#226

I thought this had already been settled, but apparently it was just reverted so that the "stable" Debian branch could keep its "feature freeze" while getting the other fixes, etc. from the newer version. So that’s a shame (in my opinion).

UPDATE: April 2019: Just found a spurious bug report in PHP that was caused by this change to

ls
. When you’re confusing developers and generating false bug reports, I think it might be time to re-evaluate your changes.

Update: Android toybox

ls
is now doing something similar to this but with backslashes instead of quotes. Using the -q option makes spaces render as ‘question mark characters’ (I have not checked what they are, since they’re obviously not spaces), so the only fix I have found so far without rooting the device in question is to add this to a script and source it when launching a shell. This function makes
ls
use columns if in a terminal and otherwise print one-per-line, while tricking
ls
into printing spaces verbatim because it’s running through a pipe.

ls() {
    # only way I can stop ls from escaping with backslashes
    if [ -t 1 ]; then
        /system/bin/ls -C @ |cat     else         /system/bin/ls@ |cat
    fi
}
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