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od doesn't show bytes by default, it shows words in octal. This may not quite be intuitive, but don't forget od is a very old command :-) I'll use a somewhat simpler example than you did: $ echo -en '\01\02' | od 0000000 001001 0000002 As Intel uses a little-endian architecture, the bytes \01\02 are interpreted as 00000010 00000001 in binary. As octal ...

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