SuperBiasedMan SuperBiasedMan - 3 months ago 10
Python Question

What is os.linesep for?

Python's os module contains a value for a platform specific line separating string, but the docs explicitly say not to use it when writing to a file:


Do not use os.linesep as a line terminator when writing files opened in text mode (the default); use a single '\n' instead, on all platforms.


Docs

Previous questions have explored why you shouldn't use it in this context, but then what context is it useful for? When should you use the line separator, and for what?

Answer

the docs explicitly say not to use it when writing to a file

This is not exact, the doc says not to used it in text mode.

The os.linesep is used when you want to iterate through the lines of a text file. The internal scanner recognise the os.linesep and replace it by a single "\n".

For illustration, we write a binary file which contains 3 lines separated by "\r\n" (Windows delimiter):

import io

filename = "text.txt"

content = b'line1\r\nline2\r\nline3'
with io.open(filename, mode="wb") as fd:
    fd.write(content)

The content of the binary file is:

with io.open(filename, mode="rb") as fd:
    for line in fd:
        print(repr(line))

NB: I used the "rb" mode to read the file as a binary file.

I get:

b'line1\r\n'
b'line2\r\n'
b'line3'

If I read the content of the file using the text mode, like this:

with io.open(filename, mode="r", encoding="ascii") as fd:
    for line in fd:
        print(repr(line))

I get:

'line1\n'
'line2\n'
'line3'

The delimiter is replaced by "\n".

The os.linesep is also used in write mode: any "\n" character is converted to the system default line separator: "\r\n" on Windows, "\n" on POSIX, etc.

With the io.open function you can force the line separator to whatever you want.

Example: how to write a Windows text file:

with io.open(filename, mode="w", encoding="ascii", newline="\r\n") as fd:
    fd.write("one\ntwo\nthree\n")

If you read this file in text mode like this:

with io.open(filename, mode="rb") as fd:
    content = fd.read()
    print(repr(content))

You get:

b'one\r\ntwo\r\nthree\r\n'