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For what it's worth, I think library functions are the way to go here, though a standard library in the Lua distribution would be useful. I use the bitwise functions in Girder 4 all the time, but it *is* a specialised requirement which would be justifiably regarded as bloat by many if introduced in the core language.

HOWEVER: If it is done, it should be done properly not using some kludge involving string packing or number truncating. This means a proper *unsigned* integer type with a well-defined bit length and a syntax for constants in binary, hex, octal etc.