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442
votes
4answers
155k views

What does “--” (double-dash) mean? (also known as “bare double dash”)

I have seen -- used in the compgen command. For example: compgen -W "foo bar baz" -- b What is the meaning of the -- in there?
335
votes
10answers
137k views

How do I delete a file whose name begins with “-” (hyphen a.k.a. dash or minus)?

How do you remove a file whose filename begins with a dash (hyphen or minus) -? I'm ssh'd into a remote OSX server and I have this file in my directory: tohru:~ $ ls -l total 8 -rw-r--r-- 1 me ...
289
votes
16answers
345k views

How to do integer & float calculations, in bash or other languages/frameworks?

Using echo "20+5" literally produces the text "20+5". What command can I use to get the numeric sum, 25 in this case? Also, what's the easiest way to do it just using bash for floating point? For ...
263
votes
6answers
26k views

What's the difference between $(stuff) and `stuff`?

There are two syntaxes for command substitution: with dollar-parentheses and with backticks. Running top -p $(pidof init) and top -p `pidof init` gives the same output. Are these two ways of doing the ...
193
votes
7answers
200k views

How to remove a single line from history?

I'm working in Mac OSX, so I guess I'm using bash...? Sometimes I enter something that I don't want to be remembered in the history. How do I remove it?
177
votes
8answers
127k views

How can I send stdout to multiple commands?

There are some commands which filter or act on input, and then pass it along as output, I think usually to stdout - but some commands will just take the stdin and do whatever they do with it, and ...
172
votes
12answers
252k views

How do I convert an epoch timestamp to a human readable format on the cli?

How do I convert an epoch timestamp to a human readable format on the cli? I think there's a way to do it with date but the syntax eludes me (other ways welcome).
162
votes
4answers
125k views

Find out current working directory of a running process?

What command(s) can one use to find out the current working directory (CWD) of a running process? These would be commands you could use externally from the process.
150
votes
7answers
373k views

How to overwrite target files with mv?

I have a ton of files and dirs in a subdirectory I want to move to the parent directory. There are already some files and dirs in the target directory which need to be overwritten. Files that are only ...
145
votes
10answers
57k views

Is there a one-liner that allows me to create a directory and move into it at the same time?

I find myself repeating a lot of: mkdir longtitleproject cd longtitleproject Is there a way of doing it in one line without repeating the directory name? I'm on bash here.
119
votes
36answers
56k views

Quick directory navigation in the bash shell

I would like to frequently switch between directories that are in totally unrelated paths, for example /Project/Warnest/docs/ and ~/Dropbox/Projects/ds/test/. But I don't want to type cd /[full-path]/...
97
votes
5answers
228k views

Usage of dash (-) in place of a filename

For a command, if using - as an argument in place of a file name will mean STDIN or STDOUT. But in this example, it creates a file with the name -: echo hello > - How can I make - in this ...
95
votes
5answers
121k views

How do I attach a terminal to a detached process?

I have detached a process from my terminal, like this: $ process & That terminal is now long closed, but process is still running, and I want to send some commands to that process's stdin. Is ...
95
votes
3answers
20k views

^x^y unix trick for all instances in last command?

One of my favorite Unix tricks is ^x^y, which will take the last command and replace the first instance of "x" with "y". However, I'm wondering if a similar trick works to replace all instances of "x" ...
94
votes
63answers
46k views

What are your favorite command line features or tricks?

Share your command line features and tricks for Unix/Linux. Try to keep it shell/distro agnostic if possible. Interested in seeing aliases, one-liners, keyboard shortcuts, small shell scripts, etc.
93
votes
9answers
343k views

Is there a way to see details of all the threads that a process has in Linux?

For Windows, I think Process Explorer shows you all the threads under a process. Is there a similar command line utility for Linux that can show me details about all the threads a particular process ...
77
votes
11answers
177k views

Generate random numbers in specific range

After googling a bit I couldn't find a simple way to use a shell command to generate a random decimal integer number included in a specific range, that is between a minimum and a maximum. I read ...
62
votes
6answers
66k views

Is there a simple command for outputting tab-delimited columns?

E.g. I have a file (produced with echo -e "var1\tvar2\t\var3\tvar4" > foo) that are output as: $ cat foo case elems meshing nlsys uniform 2350 0.076662 2.78 non-conformal 348 ...
59
votes
7answers
21k views

how to glob every hidden file except current and parent directory [duplicate]

I want to glob every hidden file and directory, but not the current (.) and parent directory (..). I am using bash. Observe current behaviour: $ ls -a . .. ...a ...aa ..a ..aa .a .aa .aaa ...
56
votes
5answers
4k views

cd by just typing the directory's name?

I either had this somewhere 20 years ago or I dreamed about it. Basically: If if type blobblob I get blobblob: command not found Fair enough. I would like it so that when my shell gets those ...
52
votes
6answers
113k views

Grabbing the first [x] characters for a string from a pipe

If I have really long output from a command (single line) but I know I only want the first [x] (let's say 8) characters of the output, what's the easiest way to get that? There aren't any delimiters.
51
votes
5answers
104k views

How do I remove all sub-directories from within a directory?

This question is kind of a phase II to the first question I posted at here I have a directory that contains a bunch of sub-directories, .zip files, and other random files not contained within a sub-...
45
votes
2answers
16k views

disable CTRL-D window close in terminator (terminal emulator)

I am often logged in through multiple SSH sessions. To logout from my sessions, I press CTRL+d, until I am back on my local machine. However, sometimes I press once too many, and my terminal exits. ...
44
votes
11answers
38k views

How do I reuse the last output from the command line?

I'd like to know how to reuse the last output from the console, ie: pv-3:method Xavier$ python -c "from distutils.sysconfig import get_python_lib; print get_python_lib()" /Library/Python/2.6/site-...
42
votes
5answers
138k views

How to pass the output of one command as the command-line argument to another?

So I have a script that, when I give it two addresses, will search two HTML links: echo "http://maps.google.be/maps?saddr\=$1\&daddr\=$2" | sed 's/ /%/g' I want to send this to wget and then ...
41
votes
1answer
12k views

Is there a standard command that always exits with a failure?

I want to test my script with a command that fails. I could use an existing command with bad arguments. I could also write a simple script that immediately exits with a failure. Both of these are easy ...
40
votes
4answers
9k views

Is it possible to configure ctrl-w (delete word)?

Normally, Ctrl+W deletes back to the last whitespace. Is it possible to configure it to use additional characters, such as /? Edit: To be more clear: I don't want to configure the key for it, I want ...
40
votes
4answers
359k views

How do I exit or cancel a bad bash command?

I expect to get some flak for this, but I can't find the answer anywhere. It seems like it should be so obvious. Sometimes, when I type a bad command in a bash terminal, the cursor just jumps down to ...
36
votes
4answers
17k views

Is there a simple Bash tool which can quickly render basic HTML?

From time to time I need to do a simple task where I output basic HTML into the console. I'd like to have it minimally rendered, to make it easier to read at a glance. Is there a utility which can ...
36
votes
2answers
47k views

what is `env <command>` doing?

What is the command env ls -al doing? I had a Linux test and there was question: "How to run command directly, but not its alias?" I knew that there exists solution like prefixing command with some ...
36
votes
4answers
51k views

How to Execute multiple command using nohup

I need to execute multiple commands using nohup. Each command should be executed after the previous command. I used this command as an example: nohup wget $url && wget $url2 > /dev/null ...
35
votes
2answers
6k views

Is there a reason why ls does not have a --zero or -0 option

This question was prompted by questions about ls' -1 option and the recurring tendency of people to ask question and answers that includes processing the output of ls. This reuse of the output ls ...
34
votes
6answers
11k views

Why is echo a shell built in command?

$ which echo echo: shell built-in command. $ which ls /bin/ls $ which cat /bin/cat Why is echo not an independent utility like ls, ps, cat etc? Why is it shell specific? Any good reasons?
32
votes
6answers
48k views

Count number of lines of output from previous program

I'm trying to count the number of lines of output a certain program produces. The problem is, the program takes a long time to run, and I want to display the output to the user. Is there a way to ...
30
votes
7answers
51k views

How do I insert a space every four characters in a long line?

I've got a long line that I want to insert a space every 4 characters, on a single lone line of solid text to make it easier to read, what's the simplest way to do this? also I should be able to input ...
30
votes
2answers
20k views

What is meant by a shell is in “vi” mode or “emacs” mode?

This question follows directly from the answer. In this case I am specifically unable to understand the part which says: In that regard, its behaviour is closer to emacs' than with bash(readline)/...
29
votes
5answers
82k views

How to put a newline special character into a file using the echo command and redirection operator?

I would like to create a file by using the echo command and the redirection operator, the file should be made of a few lines. I tried to include a newline by "\n" inside the string: echo "first ...
29
votes
2answers
14k views

Is there a unix command line tool that can analyze font files?

Given a directory of font files (TTF and OTF) I'd like to inspect each font and determine what style (regular, italic, bold, bold-italic) it is. Is there a command line tool for unix flavored ...
28
votes
8answers
33k views

grep and tail -f?

Is it possible to do a tail -f (or similar) on a file, and grep it at the same time? I wouldn't mind other commands just looking for that kind of behavior.
27
votes
12answers
12k views

Linux - command to list files (except ls)

Imagine you were working on a system and someone accidentally deleted the ls command (/bin/ls). How could you get a list of the files in the current directory? Try it. I tried many methods ...
27
votes
5answers
6k views

Unix command that immediately returns a particular return code?

Is there a standard Unix command that does something similar to my example below $ <cmd here> 56 $ echo Return code was $? Return code was 56 $ <cmd here> should be something that can be ...
27
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is `sort < “$f1” ` preferred over `sort — “$f1”`, and why is this preferred over `sort “$f1”`?

From https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/458074/674 Remember to use -- when passing arbitrary arguments to commands (or use redirections where possible). So sort -- "$f1" or better sort < "$f1" ...
27
votes
4answers
33k views

Why isn't there any shell command to create files?

Attention please: I am not asking how to make a file from the command line! I have been using touch for making files for years without paying attention that its main purpose is something else. If ...
26
votes
4answers
2k views

What is this shell/Bash syntax: someVariable=someValue someCommand [duplicate]

One of my coworkers has provided me with a Bash syntax that I am unfamiliar with. My Google foo has failed me on figuring out what it does and why/when I should use it. The command that he sent me ...
26
votes
3answers
4k views

Order of redirections

I don't quite understand how the computer reads this command. cat file1 file2 1> file.txt 2>&1 If I understand, 2>&1 simply redirect Standard Error to Standard Output. By that ...
26
votes
1answer
4k views

Why does BASH process substitution not work with some commands?

On occasion process substitution will not work as expected. Here is an example: Input: gcc <(echo 'int main(){return 0;}') Output: /dev/fd/63: file not recognized: Illegal seek collect2: error: ...
25
votes
6answers
14k views

How do I recursively check permissions in reverse?

There's a command, I think it comes with apache, or is somehow related to it, that checks permissions, all the way down. So if I have /home/foo/bar/baz it will tell me what the permissions are for baz,...
24
votes
2answers
32k views

What does the tilde (~) mean at the end of a filename? [duplicate]

What is the file with the ~ at the end of the filename for? $ ls # aliased to add flags -rwxrwxr-x 1 durrantm 2741 May 16 09:28 strip_out_rspec_prep_cmds.sh~* drwxrwxr-x 13 durrantm 4096 May 16 14:...
23
votes
6answers
11k views

Best method to collect a random sample from a collection of files

Suppose there is a directory holding 300 data files. I want to randomly select 200 of those files and move them into another directory. Is there a way to do that under Unix/Linux?
22
votes
6answers
4k views

Is it possible for a program to get number of spaces between command line arguments in POSIX?

Say if I wrote a program with the following line: int main(int argc, char** argv) Now it knows what command line arguments are passed to it by checking the content of argv. Can the program detect ...