I think you missed the point, which was, chopping at a character
length makes more sense when output is a tty, rather than when
output is a pipe (where the output is not going to be processed by
human eyes or possibly even be produced to a terminal).
Breathnach, Proinnsias (Dublin)'s [breatpro at exchange.ie.ml.com] 27 lines of wisdom included:
> Um, Padraig ....
> tty generally has a term-width variable which ps can use, so chopping to 80
> may not be sensible ... on the other hand, many utils (esp on older systems)
> had a STDIN width of what was then tty standard 80 cols, which is where the
> limitation began.
>> I'd imagine _most_ utils nowadays can take more than 80 cols on STDIN /
> piped input, but not all, so it only makes sense to retain the limitation
> until such time as the utils are upgraded.
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