2

When I use tail file, tail by default prints the last 10 lines.

Is it possible to change that default in the system level?

4

No, but you can use alias.

Add to your .bashrc this string:

alias tails='tail -n 15'

relogin at the server and try to type:

tails file

And you will get the last 15 lines of file

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6

No, the default number of lines produced by tail (and head) is mandated by the POSIX standard:

If neither -c nor -n is specified, -n 10 shall be assumed.

To get a different number of lines, use the -n command line option, or create a shell function:

mytail ()  { tail -n 5 "$@"; }

or, if you really want to keep the name of the utility and just change the default number of lines,

tail ()  { command tail -n 5 "$@"; }
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1

To do this you'd need to modify the source code and recompile it. But it looks like a waste of time and effort. Just use

tail -n 42

to output the last 42 lines.

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