Uptime Since... (#174)

First thing: the quiz name is off. Really, it should properly have
been called “Up Since…”, as we’re looking for the time of reboot.
The uptime command was in my mind, though, which is why the title is

There are a number of ways to attack this problem, as shown in the
variety of the solutions. First, let’s look at “the right way” to
solve this problem: use a library or module that does the work for
you. Such was Daniel B.'s solution, shown here:

require 'sys/uptime'
p Sys::Uptime.uptime

Unfortunately, this didn’t work on my machine, and hopefully that’s
only because of an outdated version of rb-sys-uptime, or some similar
reason. I’ll take Daniel’s word that this works on his, though I
wonder whether he’s returning the uptime or the time of last reboot
(as requested). Still, with such a module that abstracts the platform
differences, this is an easy win… if you get it to work. (Offhand,
this seems to be a Darwin, i.e. Mac OS X, module; if true, then it’s
not “the right way” for other platforms.)

Let’s go on to the submission from Erik H., which isn’t even
Ruby code.

last | grep reboot | head -1

Sometimes the Unix way is the best way. Of course, you need to know
where this information resides, and there may still be platform
differences (along with significant command-line differences on
Windows), but this is a simple and quick one-liner that requires only
a few common tools.

Let’s look now at some Ruby code. We’ll look first at Jesus
’s second submission:

captures = (`uptime`.match /up (?:(?:(\d+)

days,)?\s+(\d+):(\d+)|(\d+) min)/).captures
elapsed_seconds = captures.zip([86440, 3600, 60, 60]).inject(0) do
|total, (x,y)|
total + (x.nil? ? 0 : x.to_i * y)
puts “Last reboot was on #{Time.now - elapsed_seconds}”

The uptime information is gathered from the call to uptime. Note the
backticks, which indicate that this is a shell command to be executed,
and its output returned. The output is matched against a regular
expression, containing a number of groups, several of which are
optional. Four of those groups, however, are returned, to match
against days, hours or minutes passed. (The minutes may be grouped in
one of two ways.)

The captured results are paired up with the array [86440, 3600, 60, 60], each entry corresponding to the number of seconds in a day, hour
or minute. Finally, using inject, the total number of seconds since
the last reboot is determined. Subtracting this from Time.now
results in the time of the last reboot.

A few comments… As was mentioned on the mailing list, the regular
expression to match the output of uptime is fragile. A few
variations were shown to exist. A more complex regular expression
might be able to capture more variants, though the better answer is
not to call uptime as a shell command, but rather use the
appropriate system services to access the information directly.
However, all this parsing is a direct result of my asking for it, so
for this quiz, I’m not too concerned about this problem.

What I found a bit interesting (or confusing) was the different
classes available for date/time information: Date, Time and
DateTime. My own solution used DateTime, which I wrongly assumed I
would need (thinking Time was only time information). I should have
explored more, since the Time solution seems simpler.

Additionally, one subtracts days from DateTime objects, but
subtracts seconds from Time objects. Time supports a now
method, while DateTime does not. I expect there is some amount of
logic to these classes, but it seems to have escaped me this time

One last comment on Jesus’ solution. The uptime shell command
provides the current time simultaneously with the elapsed time since
last reboot. Yet his solution uses Time.now rather than the provide
time. For this quiz, it’s not big thing: the answer would, at most, be
off by one minute. Still, it may be an important consideration for
other scripts to preserve the matching time, to ensure accuracy.

Make sure to take a look at the other solutions. In particular, the
Windows solution from Gordon T. which makes use of an
operating system module to get the last reboot time directly. Also,
from Jesse M. is a solution that access the process file