Are you guys aware that there's a quasi-standard regarding this in
the GNU libraries? See the following excerpt from Fedora "info ls"
and "man strverscmp".
PS: I've found that "ls -v" works well for sorting MP3s with track
numbering, etc. I don't know if it handles all of the cases described in
this thread though. Maybe GNU's implementation is worth borrowing for
$ info ls
10.1.4 More details about version sort
The version sort takes into account the fact that file names frequently
include indices or version numbers. Standard sorting functions usually
do not produce the ordering that people expect because comparisons are
made on a character-by-character basis. The version sort addresses
this problem, and is especially useful when browsing directories that
contain many files with indices/version numbers in their names:
$ ls -1 $ ls -1v
Note also that numeric parts with leading zeros are considered as
$ ls -1 $ ls -1v
This functionality is implemented using the `strverscmp' function.
$ man strverscmp
STRVERSCMP(3) Linux Programmer’s Manual
strverscmp - compare two version strings
int strverscmp(const char *s1, const char *s2);
Often one has files jan1, jan2, ..., jan9, jan10, ... and it
wrong when ls(1) orders them jan1, jan10, ..., jan2, ..., jan9. In
order to rectify this, GNU introduced the -v option to ls(1), which
implemented using versionsort(3), which again uses strverscmp().
Thus, the task of strverscmp() is to compare two strings and
the "right" order, while strcmp(3) only finds the lexicographic
This function does not use the locale category LC_COLLATE, so is
mostly for situations where the strings are expected to be in
What this function does is the following. If both strings are
return 0. Otherwise find the position between two bytes with the
property that before it both strings are equal, while directly after
there is a difference. Find the largest consecutive digit strings
containing (or starting at, or ending at) this position. If one or
of these is empty, then return what strcmp(3) would have returned
(numerical ordering of byte values). Otherwise, compare both digit
strings numerically, where digit strings with one or more leading
are interpreted as if they have a decimal point in front (so that in
particular digit strings with more leading zeroes come before digit
strings with fewer leading zeroes). Thus, the ordering is 000,
01, 010, 09, 0, 1, 9, 10.
The strverscmp() function returns an integer less than, equal to, or
greater than zero if s1 is found, respectively, to be earlier than,
equal to, or later than s2.
This function is a GNU extension.
rename(1), strcasecmp(3), strcmp(3), strcoll(3),
Received on 2009-03-19