I have seen StackOverflow answers on this question, but I am struggling to see how they apply to my problem because my special characters are escaped and adding a command to the end of the sed call does not resolve the problem.

The command syntax I'm using is as follows :

sed -i `date +%s` -E 's/^#?master:/master:\n  - serverone\n  - servertwo/' /etc/salt/minion

As mentioned, I have already tried adding a command to the end (e.g. g) but that has no effect and the same error is presented.

I am using GNU sed 4.7 on Debian 10

  • Spot on ! Thank you @steeldriver Jan 11, 2020 at 11:12

1 Answer 1


When wanting to use a backup suffix with GNU sed, the suffix must following the -i option immediately, as in

sed -i"$( date +.%s )" -E '...as in question...' /etc/salt/minion

I've also added a dot to the backup suffix so that you get suffixes like .1578741576.



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