find, locate, whereis, which, type

September 16, 2009

I suspect that most Linux admins know 3 or 4 of these five commands, and regularly use 2 or 3 of them.

linuxhaxor has a useful introduction to all five, with the most common uses for each of them.

Note that locate requires a regular run of updatedb – the article says that “The database is automatically created and updated daily” which is true for most distributions, but it depends on your cron setup – you can update the locate db as frequently as you wish. Another thing to note about locate is that it will not use the (normally root-generated) database to tell you (as a non-privileged user) about files which you would not otherwise know about.

get the width of the terminal

September 8, 2009

A quick and easy way to get the width of your terminal is the command stty size. I have used it with diff like this:

diff -y -W `stty size | cut -d” ” -f2` –suppress-common-lines oldfile newfile

Note: This stty option is not available on Solaris, however, if you have it installed, the /usr/openwin/bin/resize command sets the COLUMNS variable.

update: This post originally said “width of your Linux terminal” but as noted in the comments, this feature of stty is also available in *BSD implementations, even though it is not part of the POSIX standard. So you should expect this to work on GNU and BSD systems (eg, most GNU/Linux distros, most *BSDs, including OSX) but not on all POSIX-compliant systems (eg, Solaris). I would assume that AIX, HPUX, SCO, the other “traditional” UNIX systems would also not support this, though I have not (yet) tested any of them. YMMV.

Linux Command Directory

May 16, 2009

I just found this page on the OReilly website – a Linux Command Directory

Click on any of the 687 commands below to get a description and list of available options. All links in the command summaries point to the online version of the book on Safari Bookshelf.

It doesn’t cover everything (what could?) but it could be a useful page to bookmark.

awk one-liners

April 1, 2009

I have previously plugged the great list of sed 1-liners at

Here is a similar (if shorter) list of handy awk 1-liners:

Print column1, column5 and column7 of a data file or output of any columns list

awk '{print $1, $5, $7}' data_file

cat file_name |awk '{print $1 $5 $7}'

ls –al |awk '{print $1, $5, $7}' -- Prints file_permissions,size and date

List all files names whose file size greater than zero.

ls –al |awk '$5 > 0 {print $9}'

List all files whose file size equal to 512bytes.

ls –al |awk '$5 == 512 {print $9}'

print all lines

awk '{print }' file_name

awk '{print 0}' file_name

Number of lines in a file

awk ' END {print NR}' file_name

Number of columns in each row of a file

awk '{print NF}' file_name

Sort the output of file and eliminate duplicate rows

awk '{print $1, $5, $7}' |sort –u

List all file names whose file size is greater than 512bytes and owner is “oracle”

ls –al |awk '$3 == "oracle" && $5 > 512 {print $9}'

List all file names whose owner could be either “oracle” or “root”

ls –al |awk '$3 == "oracle" || $3 == "root" {print $9}'

list all the files whose owner is not “oracle

ls –al |awk '$3 != "oracle" {print $9}'

List all lines which has at least one or more characters

awk 'NF > 0 {print }' file_name

List all lines longer that 50 characters

awk 'length($0) > 50 {print }' file_name

List first two columns

awk '{print $1, $2}' file_name

Swap first two columns of a file and print

awk '{temp = $1; $1 = $2; $2 = temp; print }' file_name

Replace first column as “ORACLE” in a data file

awk '{$1 = "ORACLE"; print }' data_file

Remove first column values in a data file

awk '{$1 =""; print }' data_file

Calculate total size of a directory in Mb

ls –al |awk '{total +=$5};END {print "Total size: " total/1024/1024 " Mb"}'

Calculate total size of a directory including sub directories in Mb

ls –lR |awk '{total +=$5};END {print "Total size: " total/1024/1024 " Mb"}'

Find largest file in a directory including sub directories

ls –lR |awk '{print $5 "\t" $9}' |sort –n |tail -1

ssh port forwarding without starting a new session

December 10, 2008

You can forward ports with ssh like this:

$ ssh -L 8080:localhost:80 user@remotehost

This will log you in to remotehost as user, and port 8080 on your local machine will be tunnelled to port 80 on remotehost. If remotehost can see a machine that you can’t (for example, if it’s on an internal network), you can even do this:

$ ssh -L 8080:internalhost:80 user@borderhost

This will log you in to borderhost, and localhost:8080 will be directed to internalhost:80, even though you may not be able to see internalhost directly yourself.

What I didn’t know until I read Nico Golde’s blog today, is that you can do this interactively, with an existing session. Tilde (~) is the default escape character, and ~C (note that’s an uppercase C) gets you a shell session within ssh itself:

$ ssh user@remotehost
user@remotehost$ ~C
ssh> -L 8080:localhost:80
Forwarding port.

Emptying deleted files

November 8, 2008

Mike Hommey has a nice article on clearing down deleted (but still-open) files: He explains the problem clearly, and goes on to provide the solution, too. Well worth bookmarking, for that 2am emergency!

someone had to free some space on a 1GB filesystem, and thought a good idea would be to delete that 860MB log file that nobody cares about. Except that it didn’t really remove it, but he didn’t really check.

Later, the “filesystem full” problem came back at someone else, who came to ask me what files from a small list he could remove. But the files were pretty small, and that wouldn’t have freed enough space. That gave me the feeling that we probably were in this typical case I introduced this post with, which du -sk confirmed: 970MB used on the filesystem according to df, but only 110MB worth of data…

Mike has solutions to this for Solaris and Linux; lsof is also useful for this kind of thing, on systems which have it.

more (or less) vi

October 17, 2008

When using the more tool (this works with less, also, and less is generally more useful; you can scroll backwards and forwards with less), you can press “v” to start editing the file, in vi, at the line you are currently viewing.

This works on Linux and Solaris; please confirm on other OSes as appropriate, though I would assume that what works on more on Solaris, will work on more or less on just about any OS.

This makes using more or less far more powerful than before, and a new way into vi.


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