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Re: grep question

  • Subject: Re: grep question
  • From: Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 03 May 2006 11:29:59 +0100
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • Organization: schestowitz.com / MCC / Manchester University
  • References: <RaOdnXGrcoy5Q8rZnZ2dnUVZ_vidnZ2d@speakeasy.net> <618li3-e0o.ln1@sirius.tg00suus7038.net> <reply_in_group-CD361E.20043702052006@news.west.earthlink.net>
  • Reply-to: newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • User-agent: KNode/0.7.2
__/ [ Tim Smith ] on Wednesday 03 May 2006 04:04 \__

> In article <618li3-e0o.ln1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>,
>  The Ghost In The Machine <ewill@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>> > Can grep return just the word that matches the pattern, or can it only
>> > return the whole line?
>> >
> ...
>> For details on any of these, 'man grep', 'man sed', or
>> 'man bash' (as bash handles the redirects).
> One thing to keep in mind, though.  If you need to do anything that you
> can't very quickly see how to do in grep or sed or whatever, then it
> often will be faster to write a little Perl script, rather than dig
> through the zillion options of grep, etc., trying to find the
> combination that does what you want.
Au comtraire. In defence of grep, its basic use is simple enough to appeal to
command-line newbies:

grep file 'search phrase' (or regular expression, if you must)

This is quicker to do than opening a file, opening search prompt/widget, then
entering phrase. Also, grep is less computationally hungry.

Then come to consider extensibility, recursion, batch mode (including
scriptability), and multi-file operations. When someone sought the code of
an error message in WordPress, for example, I immediately ran:

grep -r * 'error message substring'

to find the line in a file within a subdirectory.

That's not too complex, yet the level of expressiveness is high.

Best wishes,


Roy S. Schestowitz      | $> unzip; ping; mount /usr; grep; umount& sleep
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