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8.13. Updating a Random-Access File


You want to read in an old record from a binary file, change its values, and write back the record.


After read ing the old record, pack up the updated values, seek to the previous address, and write it back.

use Fcntl;                          # for SEEK_SET and SEEK_CUR

seek(FH, $ADDRESS, SEEK_SET)        or die "Seeking: $!";
                                    or die "Reading: $!";
# update fields, then
seek(FH, -$RECSIZE, SEEK_CUR)       or die "Seeking: $!";
print FH $BUFFER;
close FH                            or die "Closing: $!";


You don't have to use anything fancier than print in Perl to output a record. Remember that the opposite of read is not write but print , although oddly enough, the opposite of sysread actually is syswrite . ( split and join are opposites, but there's no speak to match listen , no resurrect for kill , and no curse for bless .)

The example program shown in Example 8.4 , weekearly , takes one argument: the user whose record you want to backdate by a week. (Of course, in practice, you wouldn't really want to (nor be able to!) mess with the system accounting files.) This program requires write access to the file to be updated, since it opens the file in update mode. After fetching and altering the record, it packs it up again, skips backwards in the file one record, and writes it out.

Example 8.4: weekearly


weekearly -- set someone's login date back a week
use User::pwent;
use IO::Seekable;

$typedef = 'L A12 A16';         # linux fmt; sunos is "L A8 A16"
$sizeof  = length(pack($typedef, ()));
$user    = shift(@ARGV) || $ENV{USER} || $ENV{LOGNAME};

$address = getpwnam($user)->uid * $sizeof;

open (LASTLOG, "+</var/log/lastlog")
    or die "can't update /usr/adm/lastlog: $!";
seek(LASTLOG, $address, SEEK_SET)
    or die "seek failed: $!";
read(LASTLOG, $buffer, $sizeof) == $sizeof
    or die "read failed: $!";

($time, $line, $host) = unpack($typedef, $buffer);
$time  -= 24 * 7 * 60 * 60;         # back-date a week
$buffer = pack($typedef, $time, $line, $time);

seek(LASTLOG, -$sizeof, SEEK_CUR)   # backup one record
    or die "seek failed: $!";
print LASTLOG $record;
    or die "close failed: $!";

See Also

The open , seek , read , pack , and unpack functions in the perlfunc (1) and in Chapter 3 of Programming Perl ; Recipe 8.12 ; Recipe 8.14