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Consider the code to search for all files containing the pattern "search string":

bash-3.2$ # The below find works fine..
bash-3.2$ find . -type f -exec grep -il "search string" {} \;
bash-3.2$ # But I am unable to redirect output to a log file..
bash-3.2$ find . -type f -exec grep -il "search string" {} \ > log.txt
find: incomplete statement

From the man pages for Solaris find:

-exec command   True if the executed command returns a  zero
                value  as  exit  status.   The end of command
                must be punctuated by an  escaped  semicolon.
                A  command  argument  {}  is  replaced by the
                current path name.

So it seems an escaped semicolon is compulsory. Is there another way to go about this?

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A quick workaround would be to start script before running the find command. – Hennes May 14 '13 at 10:49
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You're deleting the \;. Just do this:

find . -type f -exec grep -il "search string" {} \; > log.txt
share|improve this answer
Thanks! I finally understood it.. its escaped and grep -il "search string" {} \; is passed as an argument to the find command, so that's why the above works.. – Kent Pawar May 14 '13 at 11:06
@KentPawar well the -exec option of find will execute everything between -exec and \;. The ; is escaped so it is not interpreted by the shell but passed to find. Mind you, you don't really need the find, just do grep -ril "search string" * > log.txt to search through all files recursively. – terdon May 14 '13 at 11:09
okay. I had to go with find as the default grep on Solaris has no recursive capability. unix.stackexchange.com/questions/26483/… – Kent Pawar May 14 '13 at 11:28
@KentPawar If you have bash4+, you can just use grep **/* "search string" > log.txt with the globstar shell option. – Chris Down May 14 '13 at 11:41
thanks @ChrisDown, currently I am using GNU bash version 3.2.51 – Kent Pawar May 14 '13 at 13:30

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