I have a script for cleaning up of data files

The command:

for i in `find /ddomain/data/shop12/ -mtime +15 -print|grep -v "^.$" |grep data-`

I tried running the command without the grep -v function and I don't see any difference.

I would like to know what the grep -v "^.$" does. I did not create this script and I cannot find anything online.


grep -v "^.$" will print all lines from input except those that have only a single character.

As it is used in:

find /ddomain/data/shop12/ -mtime +15 -print|grep -v "^.$"

we can assume that it is to discard the current working directory (.) from find's output (shown when relative path . is used) , which can easily be achieved by -mindepth 1 option, although here it is redundant as you are using absolute path in find.

Later you are only searching for files with data- in their names by grep data-, this is redundant too. You can put all logic in a single find invocation:

find /ddomain/data/shop12/ -name '*data-*' -mtime +15 -print

Drop -print too, it is the default action:

find /ddomain/data/shop12/ -name '*data-*' -mtime +15

Just to note, if you are looking for only files, add -type f too:

find /ddomain/data/shop12/ -type f -name '*data-*' -mtime +15
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  • And since anything found by find /ddomain/data/shop12/ will have the /ddomain/data/shop12/ prefix, there will be no such thing as a name formed of a single character. So the answer to the OP's question is: it does nothing at all. shrug – Satō Katsura Sep 26 '16 at 10:17
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    @SatoKatsura Yes, in this specific case. But the explicit question was: ”I would like to know what the grep -v "^.$" does” – maulinglawns Sep 26 '16 at 10:48

As others have already said, grep -v '^.$' filters out lines that consist of exactly one character (lines that consist of the beginning of the line (^) followed by one character (.) followed by the end of the line ($). Another way to write it would be grep -vx . where the -x makes the ^ and $ implicit (the . matches on the whole line).

On the output of:

find /ddomain/data/shop12/ -mtime +15 -print

That makes little sense because the output of that find command will typically consist of lines like:


The only way for that output to contain lines with a single character is if there's a file whose name is something like foo<newline>X<newline>. That's perfectly possible, but I'd say it's unlikely it was the intent of that command.

Possibly, that command was (incorrectly) adapted from:

find . -mtime +15 -print | grep -v '^.$' | grep data-

Where that grep was intended to filter out the . entry (even then, grep -Fvx . would have been more appropriate). However, then it would have made more sense to write it:

find . ! -name . -path '*data-*' -mtime +15

If you want to filter-out the top-level directory with find /ddomain/data/shop12/, you'd do it as:

find /ddomain/data/shop12/. ! -name . -path '*data-*' -mtime +15

Or if your find implementation supports the -mindepth predicate:

find /ddomain/data/shop12/ -mindepth 1 -path '*data-*' -mtime +15
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It removes the . directory from the list of find results. It's easier to explain by an example:

find . -print

find . -print | grep -v '^.$'

As you can see, in the first snippet of code, we find the . result. So, you pass it to the actions taken by the for cycle.
In the second snippet, you decide to skip the . directory from the results of find, so you don't send it to the for cycle.

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  • 1
    Not only dot, but any one symbol result – Romeo Ninov Sep 26 '16 at 13:59
  • You're right. I've answered basing my explanation on the context of the script. I really think the meaning of that is cutting out the . folder. – Echoes_86 Sep 26 '16 at 14:06

The command grep -v "^.$" will "remove" from the stream the current directory and any file/directory which have name from one symbol. For example let execute

ls -a
.  ..  a1 a2 a3

and let exec it with the grep

ls -a |grep -v "^.$"

As you can see the dot disappear

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grep -v '^.$' excludes lines with only one character.


echo "foo
> bar
> x" | grep -v '^.$'
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