I am trying to replace a string using the following command:

sed -e "s/\<$5\>/$6/g" "$2/$1" > "$4/$3"

$5-> "hostname=*"
$6-> "hostname=int1"
$2/$1-> "source file path"
$4/$3-> "destination file path" 

When I try to replace the following:


I get,


But I want,


How can I match string to achieve this?

  • 1
    Please provide part of the source file you want to manage May 7, 2015 at 7:12
  • This looks suspiciously like XML source. Is it?
    – Sobrique
    May 7, 2015 at 11:10
  • Yes, this is part of the same script but not related to my question.
    – Menon
    May 7, 2015 at 11:20

2 Answers 2


sed uses regular expressions. These are different from patterns ("globs") that the shell uses.

Notice that the following doesn't work:

$ echo hostname=abc | sed "s/\<hostname=*\>/hostname=int1/"

But, the following does:

$ echo hostname=abc | sed "s/\<hostname=.*\>/hostname=int1/"

You need a . before the *.

As a regular expression, hostname=* means hostname followed by zero or more equal signs. Thus sed "s/\<hostname=*\>/hostname=int1/" replaces hostname with hostname=int1.

By contrast, the regular expression hostname=.* means hostname= followed by zero or more any character at all. That is why s/\<hostname=.*\>/hostname=int1/ replaces hostname=abc with hostname=int1.


There might be a better solution than this but you can use the below command.

sed /hostname.*$/s//"hostname=int1"/g /home/path/of/your/original/file > /tmp/hello.$$

cat /tmp/hello.$$ > /home/path/of/your/original/file

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