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I have a bunch of directory, sub-directory, and filenames that were created in Linux with the following pattern: YYYY - MM - DD T HH : MM : SS (I added spaces for clarity but no spaces are in the directory/sub/file names; YYYY, MM, DD... are integers and '-', 'T', ':' are constants of the expression).

These directories/files were copied to Windows and then back to Linux, and the ':' got corrupted. Each place where there should be ':' there is '\357\200\242' which shows up as ??? when I do ls.

I know that fixing this should not be too complicated using a combination of mv and sed, but I'm very rusty on my piping, regex, and sed usage.

So far I have this

for a in *T*???*???*; do mv "$(echo "$a" | sed [***])"; done

The [***] should be a regex that changes *T*???*???* to *T*:*:* where the middle two * are each two digits. And this should rename both files and directories, recursively. I also suspect that ??? is not the correct input pattern to use here.

Alternate approach

I've seen a bunch of posts offering a combination of find and rename, but again, I am a bit rusty on the use of regex, and could not arrive at a good solution for this situation.

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    Have a look here for regex, to test it, here for sed , and come back with some updated work. – jayooin Jan 24 at 14:52
  • @jayooin, thanks for the regex tool. It came in really handy. Once I figure out how to put it all together with Ralf's answer I will put something up. – AOK Jan 27 at 13:08
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Assuming \357\200\242 are octal numbers. Try:

rename -n 's/\o{357}\o{200}\o{242}/:/g' 2018-*

The command rename works with a Perl regular expression replace. Here it replaces three characters given as octal byte values with a colon.

Because of -n this just prints what it would do. So you are able to test without destroying something.

When you are sure that this does what you want, execute without -n.

If you need to traverse a entire directory tree, combine it with find:

find . -depth -exec rename -n 's/\o{357}\o{200}\o{242}/:/g' {} \;

Don't worry if the directory tree contains files that don't need to be renamed. If the regex replace does doesn't change the file name, the file is not renamed.

  • The regex seems to match the pattern correctly, but it is not looking inside sub-directories. However, I think I can take it from here and make it work. – AOK Jan 27 at 7:46
  • @AOK See update – Ralf Jan 27 at 17:17
  • This worked perfectly. If I understand correctly, find . tells it to find everything, then -depth tell the command to go into sub-directories, and -exec tells it to execute the above rename for each thing found. Would it be faster to add the regex also to the find, instead of a .? – AOK Jan 28 at 11:05
  • One other question: If the rename changes a folder name, does that affect the iteration through the folder/file list contained within the changed folder name? Thanks! – AOK Jan 28 at 11:16
  • The dot . says: Start searching from the current directory. It is recursive by default. The -depth means process directory content before directory itself. This would be useful if also a directory name needed rename. If you want to restrict to certain file names, you would add something like -name "2019-*" (after -depth). The find command is very powerful and complex. – Ralf Jan 28 at 11:16

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