Not sure if I fully understand what you mean by "\n" is not portable? What exactly is the implication. I've run some tests and it seems to work OK on the files I've used it on (Windows XP & Unix).
My ISP counts IO operations. Doing a "while <DF>" would mean an IO operation (I believe) for every 512 bytes of data as it is buffered in. By using sysread the whole file is read in by one IO operation. Hence me going down this approach...
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