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> How can this be with system string calls like strlen and strncpy
> and strcpy in the lua source?

As lhf pointed out, all these uses are "controled". All string *in* Lua are 
binary, but most strings outside Lua are not. So, to make life easier, many 
strings in the Lua API are zero-terminated, such as file names, 
global-variable names, strings for dostring (you can use dobuffer for 
binary strings), event names for tag methods, etc.

-- Roberto