I am trying below alias in cshell:

alias sll 'ls -l \!* | grep -oE '[^ ]+$' | paste -s | xargs ls -l'

For this CSH says, Illegal variable name.

If I use \$, alias will be set without any error. But when I use this alias, I get, grep: Invalid regular expression


  1. The aim of this alias is to achieve ls -Ll <filenames> but with full path of the file the symbolic link references.
  2. The RHS part of alias works fine as standalone command.
  3. Instead of egrep (grep -E), I tried awk '{print $NF}'. Even for this, CSH gives the error: NF undefined variable.
  • 1
    Does csh allow nested single quotes? I suspect not. Try changing the inner single quotes to doubles. Jan 18, 2016 at 14:42
  • Then the grep will try to interpret $ as a variable and hence fails.
    – BluVio
    Jan 19, 2016 at 6:00
  • Does csh really do that? man... Jan 19, 2016 at 14:14

1 Answer 1


Check your single quotes. Single quotes don't magically nest.

alias sll 'ls -l \!* | grep -oE '\''[^ ]+$'\'' | xargs ls -ld --'

That's still flawed for several reasons:

  • Because of [^ ], that won't work for file or link target names that contain spaces.
  • as you're treating that list as a list of lines, that won't work with file/link target names that contain newline characters.
  • because of xargs, that won't work with file/target names containing apostrophes, backslashes, double quotes, other types of blanks.
  • For symlinks with relative paths as their targets, that only works for symlinks in the current directory as what you pass to the second ls is a relative path to the current directory, while symlinks are resolved relative to the path of the symlink file (if you have a a/b/c -> d link, that's to a/b/d, not d in the current directory).
  • you'll get a spurious error message because of the first total <n> line of the output of ls.
  • for symlinks to symlinks, that won't give you the same as ls -lL (may be what you want though).

With zsh, you could make it:

ls -ld -- *(:A)

The :A modifier expands symlinks to their canonical absolute path.

A quasi-equivalent on GNU systems:

readlink -fz -- * | xargs -r0 ls -ld --
  • Thanks Stéphane Chazelas for detailed answer. It works. With regards to flaws you mentioned, for my use case(s) >> Flaws 1,2,3 & 6 are not applicable. >> For flaw 5, i intend to either live with it or use sll * >> For flaw 4, this very much applies to my use case. I guess, I can't do it in a one liner and I have to write a script for that.
    – BluVio
    Jan 19, 2016 at 6:10

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