I want my directory listing output in an array.

readarray x < <( ls -la )
printf "%s" ${x[@]}

So I wrote this, which works but it splits by space and not by newline. I can't find a "newline" parameter at readarray manual, so I'm kind of curious if there is a neat way to solve that request. Please do not suggest to use find (I am restricted to use ls -la).

I use bash 4.3.

  • 1
    The splitting is occurring in the printing, not in the reading I think: see Why does my shell script choke on whitespace or other special characters?, in particular the section Why do I need to write "$foo"? What happens without the quotes? Aug 11, 2016 at 12:48
  • Possible duplicate of this : stackoverflow.com/questions/18884992/… Aug 11, 2016 at 12:50
  • @steeldriver Thank you for the suggestion. Putting the second argument of printf into quotes seems to change things. I would accept your answer, if you add it.
    – Peter
    Aug 11, 2016 at 12:56
  • @voidspacexyz No, this is not a duplicate. Please consider that I am restricted to use ls -la. When using the method you've linked then it would look like this: x=($(ls -la)) which results in split words and not split lines.
    – Peter
    Aug 11, 2016 at 13:17

1 Answer 1


It does read by line, but you forgot to quote ${x[@]} which meant the split+glob operator was applied to it.

readarray x < <(ls -la)
printf %s "${x[@]}"

Or to remove the last newline character from each of those lines:

readarray -t x < <(ls -la)
printf 'line: %s\n' "${x[@]}"

Or using the split+glob operator:

IFS=$'\n' # split on newline
set -o noglob
x=($(ls -la))

(contrary to readarray -t, that method removes empty lines though (unlikely though not impossible to occur in the output of ls -la))

If you wanted to have the list of files names (including hidden ones) without the other ls -l information, you'd rather use:

shopt -s nullglob dotglob

Contrary to ls -a, it doesn't include . nor .. though. If you really wanted them, you'd do instead:

shopt -s nullglob
x=(.* *)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .