I'm trying to learn UNIX commands and I'm playing this game to learn and I'm really stuck at the moment. I'm in a server through ssh and the directory is full of random files and folders and the password for the next level is inside one of the files. I have been told that the file has the following attrbutes:

  • human-readable
  • 1033 bytes
  • non-executable

I am guessing that I should use the find command and I tried find ! -executable but that returned a load of files. The only human-readable help I can find in the manual or online is printing out the file sizes in human readable. So I'm a bit lost there?

Also I did try find ~ -size 1033b but that returned nothing. But when I tried find ~ -size -1033b it returned every file in the directory.

  • I would really like to know more about this game!
    – ivanivan
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 21:11
  • 2
    @ivanivan bandit.overthewire.org
    – avgvstvs
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 0:38

6 Answers 6


To filter out the human-readable file names, you can make use of the [:print:] (printable) character class name. You will find more about such classes in the manual for grep.

find . -type f -size 1033c -name "[[:print:]]*" ! -executable

On a second thought, the "human-readable" requirement might refer to the file's content, instead of its name. In other words, you would be searching for text files. That is a little more tricky. As @D_Bye suggested in a comment, you should then use the file command to determine the file content type. But it would not be a good idea to run file after a pipe, because it would complicate the task of displaying the file's name. Here's what I suggest:

find . -type f -size 1033c ! -executable -exec sh -c 'file -b $0 | grep -q text' {} \; -print

This is briefly how the file-part works:

  • The -exec predicate executes sh -c 'file -b $0 | grep -q text' FILENAME for each FILENAME that satisfies all the previous conditions (type, size, non-executable).
  • For each of those files, a shell (sh) runs this short script: file -b $0 | grep -q text, replacing $0 with the filename.
  • The file program determines the content type of each file and outputs this information. The -b option prevents printing the name of each tested file.
  • grep filters the output coming from file program, searching for lines containing "text". (See for yourself, how a typical output of the file command looks like.)
  • But grep does not output the filtered text, because it has the -q (quiet) option given. What it does, is just change its exit status to either 0 (which represents "true" - the filtered text was found) or 1 (meaning "error" - the text "text" did not appear in the output from file).
  • The true/false exit status coming from grep is passed further by sh to find and acts as the final result of the whole "-exec sh -c 'file $0 | grep -q text' {} \;" test.
  • In case the above test returned true, the -print command is executed (i.e. the name of the tested file is printed).
  • I know this is old but I want to add that using find . -type f -size 1033c will also return the exact same response. Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 21:44
find . -type f -readable -size 1033c ! -executable

Note that I used c instead of b for the file size. b is for 512 byte blocks. c is for actual bytes.

  • 2
    I don't think -readable means human-readable (i.e. not binary)
    – hhaamu
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 9:04
  • 1
    @hhaamu - right. However, it's probably not bad to filter out files the user has no rights to read! In order to determine if a file contains human-readable content, pipe the names returned by find to file.
    – D_Bye
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 11:20

all I wrote was:

find -size 1033c ! -executable

and got the file. Apparently the human readable part was to throw you off.

find . -readable -size 1033c \! -executable
  • -readable means that the files can be read by the account, that doesn't make them necessarily human readable.
    – Anthon
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 6:58

I think for the game however the correct syntax is:

file ./* 

You get a return that lists what each file is consisted of. It worked really well for what you are trying to accomplish in the Bandit game. The real curve ball for this task is that each file begins with - (hyphen).

  • You could improve upon this by adding a hyphen into that command like file ./-* this. Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 4:06

I think this is the best actual answer that would cover all 3 conditions

find inhere/ -type f -size 1033c ! -executable |xargs file | grep text

But as many people said, the executable and human readable were to throw us off, so using

find inhere/ -type f -size 1033c 

is quite enough !

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