patch

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patch

1. 
a. a small plot of land
b. its produce
2. a district for which particular officials, such as social workers or policemen, have responsibility
3. Pathol any discoloured area on the skin, mucous membranes, etc., usually being one sign of a specific disorder
4. Med
a. a protective covering for an injured eye
b. any protective dressing
5. Computing a small set of instructions to correct or improve a computer program

patch

[pach]
(computer science)
To modify a program or routine by inserting a machine language correction in an object deck, or by inserting it directly into the computer through the console.
The section of coding inserted in this way.
(electricity)
A temporary connection between jacks or other terminations on a patch board.

patch

1. In stone masonry, a compound used to fill natural voids or to replace chips and broken corners or edges in fabricated pieces of cut stone; applied in plastic form; mixed or selected to match the color and texture of the stone.
2. In carpentry and joinery, a piece of wood or veneer glued into a recess to replace defective portions or voids; an insert or plug.

Patch

court fool of Elizabeth, wife of Henry VII. [Br. Hist.: Brewer Handbook, 380]
See: Clowns

patch

(software)
1. A temporary addition to a piece of code, usually as a quick-and-dirty remedy to an existing bug or misfeature. A patch may or may not work, and may or may not eventually be incorporated permanently into the program. Distinguished from a diff or mod by the fact that a patch is generated by more primitive means than the rest of the program; the classical examples are instructions modified by using the front panel switches, and changes made directly to the binary executable of a program originally written in an HLL. Compare one-line fix.

2. To insert a patch into a piece of code.

3. [in the Unix world] A diff.

4. A set of modifications to binaries to be applied by a patching program. IBM systems often receive updates to the operating system in the form of absolute hexadecimal patches. If you have modified your OS, you have to disassemble these back to the source code. The patches might later be corrected by other patches on top of them (patches were said to "grow scar tissue"). The result was often a convoluted patch space and headaches galore.

There is a classic story of a tiger team penetrating a secure military computer that illustrates the danger inherent in binary patches (or, indeed, any patches that you can't - or don't - inspect and examine before installing). They couldn't find any trap doors or any way to penetrate security of IBM's OS, so they made a site visit to an IBM office (remember, these were official military types who were purportedly on official business), swiped some IBM stationery, and created a fake patch. The patch was actually the trapdoor they needed. The patch was distributed at about the right time for an IBM patch, had official stationery and all accompanying documentation, and was dutifully installed. The installation manager very shortly thereafter learned something about proper procedures.

5. Larry Wall's "patch" utility program, which automatically applies a patch to a set of source code or other text files. Patch accepts input in any of the four forms output by the Unix diff utility. When the files being patched are not identical to those on which the diffs were based, patch uses heuristics to determine how to proceed.

Diff and patch are the standard way of producing and applying updates under Unix. Both have been ported to other operating systems.

Patch Home.

patch

A modification (noun) of software or to modify (verb) software. In the past, a patch used to mean changing actual executable, machine instructions, but today more often than not, it means replacing an executable module in its entirety such as an .EXE or .DLL file. A profusion of patches to an application implies that its logic was poorly designed in the first place.

Although the term typically refers to fixing a problem, a patch may also refer to a general enhancement because the two scenarios have become blurred. For example, a security "enhancement" is often a fix for a vulnerability in the program. In addition, software vendors like to announce something new in an update other than just fixing problems. Therefore, applying patches often refers to both fixes and new features. See patch management and spaghetti code. See also MIDI patch.