I am going to upgrade my network from 64 to 128 IPs. Of course I don't want to change it manually on all 40+ VMs. I plan to use an ansible ad-hoc command with sed -i and then use the same to restart the interfaces. I have tried but and I have found - thank you guys - a solution how to replace the slash in the address, but I still need to carry the last octet of the IP address as a variable into the output. This here works but only partially

Original Text:

address 195.23.154.X/26

What I want:

 address 195.34.154.X/25

in /etc/network/interfaces/

My partially-working sed command with escaped slashes:

 sed 's/address\\/26/address\\/27/g' interfaces.bak

How do I keep the '3' in this example?

  • I have read this before but I don't think I understand how it would work in my case. Apr 14 at 10:31
  • Why do you need to need to put the whole IP in the pattern anyhow? You could simply do s_/26_/27_ and use an address to apply the command only to the correct line: sed '/address 195.24.153/s_/26_/27_'
    – Philippos
    Apr 21 at 11:19
  • @Philippos see the follow-up question ;-) Apr 21 at 12:42

2 Answers 2


Just replace all slashes that are part of the sed command syntax with a different charcter and keep the slashes that are part of your pattern or replacement, e.g.

sed 's#foo/bar#foo/baz#'

Another option is to escape all slashes that are part of your strings

sed 's/foo\/bar/foo\/baz/'

Assuming you actually need to match the string address explicitly, followed by the first three parts of the IP address literally, and then update the subnet mask from /26 to /25:

sed 's|\(address 195\.23\.154\.[0-9]*\)/26|\1/25|'

I'm, first of all, using | as a delimiter for the s/// command. I do this to avoid having to escape the slashes. Any single character can be used as the delimiter in the substitution command (apart from a small number of obvious ones, like newline).

I then capture the first part of the string that matches up to the slash in the address, using \(...\) (note that I need to escape the dots in the expression to be able to match only literal dots in those locations). I'm then able to insert this using a back-reference, \1, in the replacement part of the command.

Since I also captured the last part of the IP address, naively matched by [0-9]*, this will be carried over unchanged to the replacement.


$ echo 'address' | sed 's|\(address 195\.23\.154\.[0-9]*\)/26|\1/25|'

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