I am trying to create a small program to count the no of lines in a set of log files based some user supplied time frame.I am currently in the last step and due to some reason when i execute the program it fails with the below error grep: |: No such file or directory grep: wc: No such file or directory

The execution happens at line 6 in the code below. Line 7 shows a sample command that i am trying to execute. If I comment line 6 and uncomment line 7, it executes. I might be missing something simple. Appreciate your help. The values on those variables are given below

fileName="' summary_* | wc -l" command="grep '" comm=ived>20161215110

1 for (( z=0; z<($interval/10); z++ ))
2 do
3       comm=$tempCommand$count
4       let "count = $count + 1"                                
5       #echo "$command$comm$fileName"
6       totalCount=`$command$comm$fileName`
7       #totalCount=`grep 'ived>20161215110' summary_* | wc -l`
8       echo $totalCount
9 done
  • grep ... | wc -l might be simplified to just grep -c ...
    – thrig
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 20:25
  • For starters, why grep | wc -l when you could grep -c? Also, I would throw in some debug output that shows the contents of $command, $comm, and $filename.
    – DopeGhoti
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 20:25
  • There are a set of files on which i am applying this grep. I just need the final total count
    – Shawn
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 20:33
  • I have updated the variables in the question
    – Shawn
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 20:38

1 Answer 1


The shell recognizes the | metacharacter at the very beginning of parsing. When expanding a variable value, it's already too late, so | behaves as a literal vertical bar, i.e. as if you ran

grep 'ived>20161215110' summary_* \| wc -l

You can use a function instead of a variable.

  • So essentially what change do you want me to make in the script to get it work?
    – Shawn
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 21:11
  • 1
    @Shawn: I can't run your script, you haven't shown enough code. See mcve.
    – choroba
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 21:21

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