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Unix st_mtime has only second-level resolution #6285

vicuna opened this issue Jan 2, 2014 · 4 comments


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commented Jan 2, 2014

Original bug ID: 6285
Reporter: gfxmonk
Assigned to: @diml
Status: closed (set by @xavierleroy on 2016-12-07T10:47:19Z)
Resolution: fixed
Priority: normal
Severity: feature
Platform: x86_64
OS: Linux
Version: 4.01.0
Fixed in version: 4.03.0+dev / +beta1
Category: standard library
Monitored by: @gasche @diml @hcarty

Bug description

stat.c (in the unix module) uses the old second-level precision data attributes of linux stat results:

It should use the newer, subsecond-precision attributes where available. Jane Street Core does this:

Steps to reproduce

The following script always prints a whole number for mtime, despite other programs on the same machine/OS accessing sub-second resolution for mtime (e.g python):

#!/usr/bin/env ocamlscript
Ocaml.packs := ["unix"]

open Unix
open Printf

let () =
let this_file = Array.get Sys.argv 0 in
let stats = Unix.stat this_file in
printf "mtime: %f" stats.st_mtime


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commented Jun 5, 2014

Comment author: @xavierleroy

I'm putting this as a feature wish, because it is.

Yes, it would be a nice touch to support subsecond resolution here. I am concerned about the three different ways to access the nanosecond parts: a solid configure-time test is needed here, because Jane Street's code seems to assume either Linux, MacOS X, or BSD, but nothing else.

I am also surprised at the "1000000000.0f" constant in their code. By forcing computation to single precision, rounding errors become much larger (up to 1.1 ns instead of 6e-8 ns for double precision). Not that it matters much, but as a floating-point nit-picker I had to point it out.


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commented Mar 4, 2015

Comment author: @diml

We added a configure-time test for this in core a few month ago. I wrote a patch for OCaml:


Without the single precision constant...


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commented Mar 5, 2015

Comment author: @diml

Committed in trunk: 15877.


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commented Mar 11, 2015

Comment author: @diml

Committed in 4.02: 15894

@vicuna vicuna closed this Dec 7, 2016

@vicuna vicuna added the stdlib label Mar 14, 2019

@vicuna vicuna added the feature-wish label Mar 20, 2019

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