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I am looking for a way to send the resulting file from one comamnd to another, So I dont have to save a copy on disk inbetween. For example, if I have rared files on disk and want to open them I would like to be able to run something like:

unrar x file.rar | kplayer

unrar x file.rar | gpg -c

gpg file.gpg | kplayer 

I am sure you see what I am looking for. I have tried to get unrar to send to standard output with -p but it will just send it to screen even when I think it should be connected with a | to kplayer. I suppose that is because kplayer can't get it's data from stdin.

But is there a way to pass files without saving them on disk? Is the best I can get to create a filesystem in memory and use that, I don't like the idea to reserve that much memory though.

share|improve this question
Even if kplayer doesn't read from stdin by default (haven't used it, don't know it), you can still use a fifo file as an argument (see mkfifo) as a workaround. But it will still not work if the media format does not support streaming. What exactly are you trying to feed kplayer? – forcefsck Oct 16 '11 at 20:53

A lot of commands have an option to write to STDOUT. Unrar, for example, has the p option. A lot of commands then have the - option that can be used in cojunction to read from STDIN. So the first example you gave could be rewritten like this:

unrar px file.rar | kplayer -

GPG already works with piped input by default:

unrar px file.rar | gpg -c

Check a command's help and/or man/info page if sending the results to STDOUT is supported (many commands do this by default).

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You have to be careful when using - for stdin and might need to prefix it with -- to inform the command that it is a file argument and not an option. – Richm Oct 15 '11 at 17:17
Another option instead of using - is to use /dev/stdin as a file or /dev/fd/0 . Both are available on linux but I do not thing that it will make kplayer work because it likely needs a seekable file and not a stream/pipe. – Richm Oct 15 '11 at 17:18
@Richm Most programs recognize - as an operand, not an option. Both POSIX and GNU mandate that - be an operand. – Gilles Oct 15 '11 at 23:00
Note that p and x are both commands and unrar accepts only one command. Using both as shown in the answer results a syntax error. As unrar writes its error messages to STDOUT instead of STDIN (probably a DOS legacy), it will be sent to kplayer instead of appearing in the terminal. – manatwork Oct 16 '11 at 10:17
This is the key - a program has to support writing its output to stdout [or, in a pinch, to an arbitrary filename, for use with >(process substitution)], rather than creating a file. (in principle, the other program has to support picking up its input from either stdin or an arbitrary filename, but this is much more common) – Random832 Oct 17 '11 at 14:42

If the command merely requires a file name, specify /dev/stdin or /dev/fd/0. These are special files; opening them actually duplicates standard input. Some commands accept - as an alias for standard input, too.

unrar p foo.rar somefile | somecommand -
unrar p foo.rar somefile | somecommand /dev/stdin

Occasionally a program imposes constraints on the file name, typically requiring a specific extension. You might be able to fool it with a symbolic link.

ln -s /dev/stdin myfile.ext
unrar p foo.rar somefile | somecommand myfile.ext

This won't always work, because some programs can't cope with piped input: they require seekable files, i.e., file where they can go back and forth at will. In that case, you need to make a temporary file.

In some cases, you can arrange for your data to appear as a regular file rather than as the output of a command. FUSE, in particular, can make all sorts of things appear as regular files. For example, with AVFS, archive members appear as files.

cd "~/.avfs$PWD/foo.rar\#"
somecommand somefile
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If you're in a shell that supports process substitution, that might help with programs that can't take data from stdin.

You would do kplayer <(unrar p file.rar)

If you are quite desperate, you can use a ramdisk, and actually create files, but they won't be on disk.

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This is equivalent to using /dev/stdin: the data will still be coming from a pipe. The <(…) construct only becomes useful when you want to get input from several pipes (they can't all be stdin). – Gilles Oct 15 '11 at 23:02
@Gilles It's not the same; data does not come from stdin. The <(…) is converted a filename, and that filename is passed to the program as an argument. So if the program does not read from standard in, but does take filename arguments, this is useful. – Shawn J. Goff Oct 16 '11 at 16:41
But the file name is /dev/fd/NUMBER or something like it, and the file is a pipe. – Gilles Oct 16 '11 at 18:01
Exactly; it's a pipe, but not stdin, which is (I think) what the author was looking for. – Shawn J. Goff Oct 16 '11 at 22:24

And thanks all for the input, i suppose there isn't any easy way to get what i want ;(

The following command should do and use the /dev/shm, So i need to build a nifty script :)

cp file.gpg /dev/shm && gpg -c file.gpg && rm file.gpg && kplayer file && rm file
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