In the code below, I want to remove the "white space character" from 2 places only, from the end of 1st line and from the end of last line. How can I optimize it ?

Platform : Linux , gcc compiler

int remove_special_chars(char *file_path, char *dest_file, int flag)

    struct stat st;
    unsigned char *fileData=NULL;
    FILE *fp = NULL, *dest_file_fp = NULL, *intermidiate_fp = NULL;
    char tmp_str[256] = {0}, str_buffer[100] = {0};
    int file_size = 0, count = 0, read_len = 0;

    /* I have taken 3 files here "file_path" is 
       the source file from which i am reading 
       data and intermidiate_path is the 2nd file
       in which  iam storing data after removing 
       the space from 1st line. Then iam reding 
       the intermidiate file and removing the space
       from last line and finally storing it into 
       3rd file i.e is "dest_file". */              

    if ((fp = fopen(file_path, "r")) == NULL) {
        DPRINTF("File Opening Failed!\n");
        return -1;
    if((intermidiate_fp = fopen(INTERMEDIATE_FILE_PATH, "wb+")) == NULL) {
        DPRINTF("File Opening Failed!\n");
        return -1;
    if((dest_file_fp = fopen(dest_file, "wb")) == NULL) {
        DPRINTF("File Opening Failed!\n");
        return -1;

    while(fgets(tmp_str, sizeof(tmp_str), fp) != NULL) {
        DPRINTF("tmp_str : %s\n", tmp_str);

        fputs(tmp_str, intermidiate_fp);

        if(count == 0) {
            strncpy(str_buffer, tmp_strstrlen(tmp_str));
            str_buffer[strlen(str_buffer) - 1] = '\0';
            DPRINTF("str_buffer : %s\n", str_buffer);
            fputs(str_buffer, intermidiate_fp);
            count ++;


    if (st.st_size == 0) {
        return (-2);
    file_size = st.st_size;
    DPRINTF("File size : %d\n", file_size);
    fileData = (unsigned char *)malloc(sizeof(char)*file_size);
    if(fileData == NULL) {
        DPRINTF("Unable to allocate size for fileData!\n");
        return -1;
    if ((read_len=fread(fileData, 1, file_size, intermidiate_fp)) == 0) {
        DPRINTF("Reading Failed!\n");
        free(fileData); fileData=NULL;
        return (-3);
    fileData[(file_size-1)] = '\0';
    DPRINTF("File Data : %s\n", fileData);

    fputs((char*)fileData, dest_file_fp);

    fclose(dest_file_fp); fclose(fp);

    return 0;
  • \$\begingroup\$ Minor nitpick: could you please correct the spelling of "intermediate" ? \$\endgroup\$
    – Joey Adams
    Apr 28, 2012 at 18:52

1 Answer 1


A couple lines that bother me:

strncpy(str_buffer, tmp_strstrlen(tmp_str));

First, bear in mind that strncpy does not place a \0 terminator at the end of the string if the buffer size limit is reached (but it does in every other case!). Thus, you have to be extremely careful when using strncpy.

Second, you're copying a large (256-byte) buffer into a smaller (100-byte) buffer, and you're (presumably) passing the length of the larger buffer to strncpy. If tmp_str holds a string that's too long, you'll get a buffer overflow.

str_buffer[strlen(str_buffer) - 1] = '\0';

When the string has length zero (e.g. the file is empty or did not have a trailing newline), the array access will be out of range. Otherwise, it will blindly delete the last character, even if it wasn't whitespace.

The lines that I highlighted will work... if you make a couple assumptions:

  • Every line of input has < 100 characters

  • The "whitespace characters" we want to delete always exist.

However, it looks like you're deleting the trailing newline returned by fgets. I'm not even sure your code works.

If I were you, the first step I'd take is to come up with a concise specification of what you're trying to do. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you want to do this:

first line: s/[\t ]$//
last line:  s/[\t ]$//
Lines are terminated by '\n', except the last line might not have a terminator.

The s/[\t ]$// syntax is borrowed from sed, and means: if there's a '\t' or ' ' character at the end of the string, remove it (i.e. replace it with an empty string).

Then, observe that this operation can be done with a trivial amount of buffering. When a newline is detected, hang on to the last character in the line, and only emit it when you're not on the first line and you know that more lines follow. Thus, you don't need an intermediate file.

I recommend implementing a helper function with this signature:

int remove_trailing_spaces(FILE *in, FILE *out);

You should only need to fread and fwrite in large chunks. The int lets you return an error code if one of these functions fails.


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