Difference between revisions of "Core utilities"

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{{Related articles start}}
 
{{Related articles start}}
{{Related|Core utilities/Tips and tricks}}
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{{Related|Command-line shell}}
{{Related|Bash}}
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{{Related|Users and groups}}
{{Related|Zsh}}
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{{Related|systemd}}
 +
{{Related|pacman}}
 
{{Related|General recommendations}}
 
{{Related|General recommendations}}
{{Related|GNU Project}}
 
{{Related|sudo}}
 
{{Related|cron}}
 
{{Related|man page}}
 
{{Related|Securely wipe disk#shred}}
 
{{Related|File permissions and attributes}}
 
 
{{Related articles end}}
 
{{Related articles end}}
  
This article deals with so-called ''core'' utilities on a GNU/Linux system, such as ''less'', ''ls'', and ''grep''. The scope of this article includes, but is not limited to, those utilities included with the GNU {{Pkg|coreutils}} package. What follows are various tips and tricks and other helpful information related to these utilities.
+
''Core utilities'' are the basic, fundamental tools of a [[GNU]]/[[Linux]] system. On Arch Linux they are found in the [[base group]]. This article provides an incomplete overview of them, links their documentation and describes useful alternatives. The scope of this article includes, but is not limited to, the [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/coreutils.html GNU coreutils]. Most core utilities are traditional [[Wikipedia:Unix|Unix]] tools (see [[Heirloom]]) and many were standardized by [[Wikipedia:POSIX|POSIX]] but have been developed further to provide more features.
  
== Basic commands ==
+
Most command-line interfaces are documented in [[man page]]s, utilities by the [[GNU Project]] are documented primarily in [[Info manual]]s, some [[shell]]s provide a {{ic|help}} command for shell builtin commands. Additionally most utilities print their usage when run with the {{ic|--help}} flag.
  
The following table lists basic shell commands every Linux user should be familiar with. Commands in '''bold''' are part of the shell, others are separate programs called from the shell. See the below sections and ''Related articles'' for details.
+
== Essentials ==
  
{| class="wikitable"
+
The following table lists some important utilities which Arch Linux users should be familiar with. See also {{man|1|intro}}.
! Command
+
 
! Description
+
{| class=wikitable
! Example
+
! Package !! Utility !! Description !! Documentation !! Alternatives
 +
|-
 +
| shell built-ins || cd || change directory || {{man|1p|cd}}
 +
|-
 +
|rowspan=12| GNU {{Pkg|coreutils}}
 +
| ls || list directory || {{man|1|ls}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/ls-invocation.html info] || {{Pkg|exa}}, {{Pkg|lsd}}, {{Pkg|tree}}
 
|-
 
|-
| man
+
| cat || concatenate files to stdout || {{man|1|cat}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/cat-invocation.html info] || {{man|1|tac}}, {{Pkg|bat}}
| Show manual page for a command
 
| man ed
 
 
|-
 
|-
| '''cd'''
+
| mkdir || make directory || {{man|1|mkdir}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/mkdir-invocation.html info]
| Change directory
 
| cd /etc/pacman.d
 
 
|-
 
|-
| mkdir
+
| rmdir || remove empty directory || {{man|1|rmdir}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/rmdir-invocation.html info]
| Create a directory
 
| mkdir ~/newfolder
 
 
|-
 
|-
| rmdir
+
| rm || remove files or directories || {{man|1|rm}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/rm-invocation.html info] || [[shred]]
| Remove empty directory
 
| rmdir ~/emptyfolder
 
 
|-
 
|-
| rm
+
| cp || copy files or directories || {{man|1|cp}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/cp-invocation.html info]
| Remove a file
 
| rm ~/file.txt
 
 
|-
 
|-
| rm -r
+
| mv || move files or directories || {{man|1|mv}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/mv-invocation.html info]
| Remove directory and contents
 
| rm -r ~/.cache
 
 
|-
 
|-
| ls
+
| ln || make hard or symbolic links || {{man|1|ln}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/ln-invocation.html info]
| List files
 
| ls *.mkv
 
 
|-
 
|-
| ls -a
+
| [[chown]] || change file owner and group || {{man|1|chown}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/chown-invocation.html info] || {{man|1|chgrp}}
| List hidden files
 
| ls -a /home/archie
 
 
|-
 
|-
| ls -al
+
| [[chmod]] || change file permissions || {{man|1|chmod}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/chmod-invocation.html info]
| List hidden files and file properties
 
|
 
 
|-
 
|-
| mv
+
| [[dd]] || convert and copy a file || {{man|1|dd}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/dd-invocation.html info]
| Move a file
 
| mv ~/compressed.zip ~/archive/compressed2.zip
 
 
|-
 
|-
| cp
+
| df || report file system disk space usage || {{man|1|df}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/df-invocation.html info]
| Copy a file
 
| cp ~/.bashrc ~/.bashrc.bak
 
 
|-
 
|-
| chmod +x
+
| GNU {{Pkg|tar}} || [[tar]] || tar archiver || {{man|1|tar}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/tar/manual/html_chapter/index.html info] || [[archiver]]s
| Make a file executable
 
| chmod +x ~/.local/bin/myscript.sh
 
 
|-
 
|-
| cat
+
| GNU {{Pkg|less}} || less || terminal pager || {{man|1|less}} || [[terminal pager]]s
| Show file contents
 
| cat /etc/hostname
 
 
|-
 
|-
| strings
+
| GNU {{Pkg|findutils}} || find || search files or directories || {{man|1|find}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/findutils/manual/html_node/find_html/index.html info], [[GregsWiki:UsingFind|GregsWiki]] || [[#find alternatives]]
| Show printable characters in binary files
 
| strings /usr/bin/free
 
 
|-
 
|-
| find
+
| GNU {{Pkg|diffutils}} || diff || compare files line by line || {{man|1|diff}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/diffutils/manual/html_node/Invoking-diff.html info] || [[#diff alternatives]]
| Search for a file
 
| find ~ -name myfile
 
 
|-
 
|-
| mount
+
| GNU {{Pkg|grep}} || grep || print lines matching a pattern || {{man|1|grep}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/grep/manual/html_node/index.html info] || [[#grep alternatives]]
| Mount a partition
 
| mount /dev/sdc1 /media/usb
 
 
|-
 
|-
| df -h
+
| GNU {{Pkg|sed}} || sed || stream editor || {{man|1|sed}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/sed/manual/html_node/index.html info], [http://sed.sourceforge.net/sed1line.txt one-liners]
| Show remaining space on all partitions
 
|
 
 
|-
 
|-
| ps -A
+
| GNU {{Pkg|gawk}} || awk || pattern scanning and processing language || {{man|1|gawk}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/gawk/manual/html_node/index.html info] || {{Pkg|nawk}}, {{AUR|mawk}}
| Show all running processes
 
|
 
 
|-
 
|-
| killall
+
|rowspan=6| {{Pkg|util-linux}}
| Kill all running instances of a process
+
| [[Wikipedia:dmesg|dmesg]] || print or control the kernel ring buffer || {{man|1|dmesg}} || [[systemd journal]]
|
 
 
|-
 
|-
| ss -at
+
| [[lsblk]] || list block devices || {{man|8|lsblk}}
| Display a list of open TCP sockets
+
|-
|
+
| [[mount]] || mount a filesystem || {{man|8|mount}}
 +
|-
 +
| [[umount]] || unmount a filesystem || {{man|8|umount}}
 +
|-
 +
| [[su]] || substitute user || {{man|1|su}} || [[sudo]]
 +
|-
 +
| kill || terminate a process || {{man|1|kill}} || {{man|1|pkill}}, {{man|1|killall}}
 +
|-
 +
|rowspan=3| {{Pkg|procps-ng}}
 +
| pgrep || look up processes by name or attributes || {{man|1|pgrep}} || {{man|1|pidof}}
 +
|-
 +
| ps || show information about processes || {{man|1|ps}} ||rowspan=2| {{man|1|top}}, {{Pkg|htop}}
 +
|-
 +
| free || display amount of free and used memory || {{man|1|free}}
 
|}
 
|}
  
== cat ==
+
=== Preventing data loss ===
 
 
[[Wikipedia:cat_(Unix)|cat]] is a standard Unix utility that concatenates and lists files.
 
 
 
* Because ''cat'' is not a built-in shell, on many occasions you may find it more convenient to use a [[Wikipedia:Redirection (computing)|redirection]], for example in scripts, or if you care a lot about performance. In fact {{ic|< ''file''}} does the same as {{ic|cat ''file''}}.
 
 
 
* ''cat'' is able to work with multiple lines, although this is sometimes regarded as bad practice:
 
 
 
{{bc|
 
$ cat << EOF >> ''path/file''
 
''first line''
 
...
 
''last line''
 
EOF
 
}}
 
: A better alternative is the ''echo'' command:
 
{{bc|
 
$ echo "\
 
''first line''
 
...
 
''last line''" \
 
>> ''path/file''
 
}}
 
 
 
* If you need to list file lines in reverse order, there is a utility called [[Wikipedia:tac (Unix)|tac]] (''cat'' reversed).
 
 
 
== dd ==
 
  
{{Merge|Disk cloning|The cp <-> dd note could go to [[#cp]], which should be created}}
+
{{ic|rm}}, {{ic|mv}}, {{ic|cp}} and shell redirections happily delete or overwrite files without asking. {{ic|rm}}, {{ic|mv}}, and {{ic|cp}} all support the {{ic|-i}} flag to prompt the user before every removal / overwrite. Some users like to enable the {{ic|-i}} flag by default using [[alias]]es. Relying upon these shell options can be dangerous, because you get used to them, resulting in potential data loss when you use another system or user that does not have them. The best way to prevent data loss is to create [[backup]]s.
  
[[Wikipedia:dd (Unix)|dd]] is a command on Unix and Unix-like operating systems whose primary purpose is to convert and copy a file.
+
== Nonessentials ==
  
By default, ''dd'' outputs nothing until the task has finished. To monitor the progress of the operation, add the {{ic|1=status=progress}} option to the command. See the [http://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/dd-invocation.html#dd-invocation manual] for more information.
+
This table lists core utilities that often come in handy.
  
{{Note|''cp'' does the same as ''dd'' without any operands but is not designed for more versatile disk wiping procedures.}}
+
{| class=wikitable
 
+
! Package !! Utility !! Description !! Documentation !! Alternatives
== grep ==
 
 
 
[[Wikipedia:grep|grep]] (from [[Wikipedia:ed|ed]]'s ''g/re/p'', ''global/regular expression/print'') is a command line text search utility originally written for Unix. The ''grep'' command searches files or standard input globally for lines matching a given regular expression, and prints them to the program's standard output.
 
 
 
* Remember that ''grep'' handles files, so a construct like {{ic|cat ''file'' <nowiki>|</nowiki> grep ''pattern''}} is replaceable with {{ic|grep ''pattern'' ''file''}}
 
 
 
* ''grep'' alternatives optimized for VCS source code do exist, such as {{Pkg|the_silver_searcher}} and {{Pkg|ack}}.
 
 
 
=== Standard error ===
 
 
 
Some commands send their output to standard error, and grep has no apparent effect. In this case, redirect standard error next to standard out:
 
 
 
$ ''command'' 2>&1 | grep ''args''
 
 
 
or Bash 4 shorthand:
 
 
 
$ ''command'' |& grep ''args''
 
 
 
See also [http://www.tldp.org/LDP/abs/html/io-redirection.html I/O Redirection].
 
 
 
== find ==
 
 
 
''find'' is part of the {{Pkg|findutils}} package, which belongs to the {{Grp|base}} package group.
 
 
 
One would probably expect a ''find'' command to take as argument a file name and search the filesystem for files matching that name. For a program that does exactly that see [[#locate]] below.
 
 
 
Instead, find takes a set of directories and matches each file under them against a set of expressions. This design allows for some very powerful "one-liners" that would not be possible using the "intuitive" design described above. See [http://mywiki.wooledge.org/UsingFind UsingFind] for usage details.
 
 
 
== locate ==
 
 
 
Install the {{Pkg|mlocate}} package. When {{ic|mlocate}} is installed, a script is automatically scheduled to run daily via {{ic|systemd}}, to update the database. You can also manually run {{ic|updatedb}} as root at any time. By default, paths such as {{ic|/media}} and {{ic|/mnt}} are ignored, so {{ic|locate}} may not discover files on external devices. See {{ic|man updatedb.conf}} for details.
 
 
 
{{ic|locate}} is a common Unix tool for quickly finding files by name. It offers speed improvements over the [[wikipedia:Find|find]] tool by searching a pre-constructed database file, rather than the filesystem directly. The downside of this approach is that changes made since the construction of the database file cannot be detected by {{ic|locate}}. This problem is minimised by regular, typically scheduled use of the {{ic|updatedb}} command, which (as the name suggests) updates the database.
 
 
 
Before {{ic|locate}} can be used, the database will need to be created. To do this, simply run {{ic|updatedb}} as root.
 
 
 
See also [http://jvns.ca/blog/2015/03/05/how-the-locate-command-works-and-lets-rewrite-it-in-one-minute/ How locate works and rewrite it in one minute]
 
 
 
== iconv ==
 
 
 
{{ic|iconv}} converts the encoding of characters from one codeset to another.
 
 
 
The following command will convert the file {{ic|foo}} from ISO-8859-15 to UTF-8 saving it to {{ic|foo.utf}}:
 
 
 
$ iconv -f ISO-8859-15 -t UTF-8 foo >foo.utf
 
 
 
See {{ic|man iconv}} for more details.
 
 
 
=== Convert a file in place ===
 
{{Tip|You can use {{pkg|recode}} instead of iconv if you do not want to touch the mtime.}}
 
Unlike [[#sed|sed]], ''iconv'' does not provide an option to convert a file in place. However, {{ic|sponge}} can be used to handle it, it comes with {{pkg|moreutils}}.
 
 
 
$ iconv -f WINDOWS-1251 -t UTF-8 foobar.txt | sponge foobar.txt
 
 
 
See {{ic|man sponge}} for details.
 
 
 
== ip ==
 
 
 
[[Wikipedia:Iproute2|ip]] allows you to show information about network devices, IP addresses, routing tables, and other objects in the Linux [[Wikipedia:Internet Protocol|IP]] software stack. By appending various commands, you can also manipulate or configure most of these objects.
 
 
 
{{Note|The ''ip'' utility is provided by the {{Pkg|iproute2}} package, which is included in the {{Grp|base}} group.}}
 
 
 
{| class="wikitable"
 
! Object !! Purpose !! Manual Page Name
 
 
|-
 
|-
| ip addr || protocol address management || ip-address
+
|rowspan=3| shell built-ins
 +
| alias || define or display aliases || {{man|1p|alias}}
 
|-
 
|-
| ip addrlabel || protocol address label management || ip-addrlabel
+
| type || print the type of a command || {{man|1p|type}} || {{man|1|which}}
 
|-
 
|-
| ip l2tp || tunnel Ethernet over IP (L2TPv3) || ip-l2tp
+
| time || time a command || {{man|1p|time}}
 
|-
 
|-
| ip link || network device configuration || ip-link
+
|rowspan=11| GNU {{Pkg|coreutils}}
 +
| tee || read stdin and write to stdout and files || {{man|1|tee}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/tee-invocation.html info]
 
|-
 
|-
| ip maddr || multicast addresses management || ip-maddress
+
| mktemp || make a temporary file or directory || {{man|1|mktemp}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/mktemp-invocation.html info]
 
|-
 
|-
| ip monitor || watch for netlink messages || ip-monitor
+
| cut || print selected parts of lines || {{man|1|cut}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/cut-invocation.html info]
 
|-
 
|-
| ip mroute || multicast routing cache management || ip-mroute
+
| tr || translate or delete characters || {{man|1|tr}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/tr-invocation.html info]
 
|-
 
|-
| ip mrule || rule in multicast routing policy db ||
+
| od || dump files in octal and other formats || {{man|1|od}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/od-invocation.html info] || {{man|1|hexdump}}, [[vim]]'s {{man|1|xxd}}
 
|-
 
|-
| ip neigh || neighbour/ARP tables management || ip-neighbour
+
| sort || sort lines || {{man|1|sort}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/sort-invocation.html info]
 
|-
 
|-
| ip netns || process network namespace management || ip-netns
+
| uniq || report or omit repeated lines || {{man|1|uniq}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/uniq-invocation.html info]
 
|-
 
|-
| ip ntable || neighbour table configuration || ip-ntable
+
| comm || compare two sorted files line by line || {{man|1|comm}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/comm-invocation.html info]
 
|-
 
|-
| ip route || routing table management || ip-route
+
| head || output the first part of files || {{man|1|head}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/head-invocation.html info]
 
|-
 
|-
| ip rule || routing policy database management || ip-rule
+
| tail || output the last part of files, or follow files || {{man|1|tail}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/tail-invocation.html info]
 
|-
 
|-
| ip tcp_metrics || management for TCP Metrics || ip-tcp_metrics
+
| wc || print newline, word and byte count || {{man|1|wc}}, [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/wc-invocation.html info]
 
|-
 
|-
| ip tunnel || tunnel configuration || ip-tunnel
+
| GNU {{Pkg|binutils}} || strings || print printable characters in binary files || {{man|1|strings}}, [https://sourceware.org/binutils/docs/binutils/strings.html info]
 
|-
 
|-
| ip tuntap || manage TUN/TAP devices ||
+
| GNU {{Pkg|glibc}} || iconv || convert character encodings || {{man|1|iconv}} || {{Pkg|recode}}
 
|-
 
|-
| ip xfrm || manage IPsec policies || ip-xfrm
+
| {{Pkg|file}} || file || guess file type || {{man|1|file}}
 
|}
 
|}
  
The {{ic|help}} command is available for all objects. For example, typing {{ic|ip addr help}} will show you the command syntax available for the address object. For advanced usage see the [http://www.policyrouting.org/iproute2.doc.html iproute2 documentation].
+
The {{Pkg|moreutils}} package provides useful tools like {{man|1|sponge}} that are missing from the GNU coreutils.
 
 
The [[Network configuration]] article shows how the ''ip'' command is used in practice for various common tasks.
 
 
 
{{Note|You might be familiar with the [[Wikipedia:ifconfig|ifconfig]] command, which was used in older versions of Linux for interface configuration. It is now deprecated in Arch Linux; you should use ''ip'' instead. }}
 
 
 
== less ==
 
 
 
{{Expansion|less is a complex beast, and this section should explain some of the basic less commands}}
 
 
 
[[Wikipedia:less (Unix)|less]] is a terminal pager program used to view the contents of a text file one screen at a time. Whilst similar to other pagers such as [[Wikipedia:more (command)|more]] and [[Wikipedia:pg (Unix)|pg]], ''less'' offers a more advanced interface and complete [http://www.greenwoodsoftware.com/less/faq.html feature-set].
 
 
 
See [[List of applications#Terminal pagers]] for alternatives.
 
 
 
== ls ==
 
 
 
[[Wikipedia:ls|ls]] lists directory contents.
 
 
 
See {{ic|info ls}} or [http://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/ls-invocation.html#ls-invocation the online manual] for more information.
 
 
 
=== Long format ===
 
 
 
The {{ic|-l}} option displays some metadata, for example:
 
 
 
{{hc|$ ls -l /path/to/directory|
 
total 128
 
drwxr-xr-x 2 archie users  4096 Jul  5 21:03 Desktop
 
drwxr-xr-x 6 archie users  4096 Jul  5 17:37 Documents
 
drwxr-xr-x 2 archie users  4096 Jul  5 13:45 Downloads
 
-rw-rw-r-- 1 archie users  5120 Jun 27 08:28 customers.ods
 
-rw-r--r-- 1 archie users  3339 Jun 27 08:28 todo
 
-rwxr-xr-x 1 archie users  2048 Jul  6 12:56 myscript.sh
 
}}
 
 
 
The {{ic|total}} value represents the total disk allocation for the files in the directory, by default in number of blocks.
 
 
 
Below, each file and subdirectory is represented by a line divided into 7 metadata fields, in the following order:
 
 
 
* type and permissions:
 
** the first character is the entry type, see {{ic|info ls -n "What information is listed"}} for an explanation of all the possible types; for example:
 
*** {{ic|-}} denotes a normal file;
 
*** {{ic|d}} denotes a directory, i.e. a folder containing other files or folders;
 
*** {{ic|p}} denotes a named pipe (aka FIFO);
 
*** {{ic|l}} denotes a symbolic link;
 
** the remaining characters are the entry's [[permissions]];
 
* number of [[Wikipedia:Hard link|hard links]] for the entity; files will have at least 1, i.e. the showed reference itself; folders will have at least 2: the showed reference, the self-referencing {{ic|.}} entry, and then a {{ic|..}} entry in each of its subfolders;
 
* owner [[user]] name;
 
* [[group]] name;
 
* size;
 
* last modification timestamp;
 
* entity name.
 
 
 
=== File names containing spaces enclosed in quotes ===
 
 
 
By default, file and directory names that contain spaces are displayed surrounded by single quotes. To change this behavior use the {{ic|-N}} or {{ic|1=--quoting-style=literal}} options. Alternatively, set the {{ic|QUOTING_STYLE}} [[environment variable]] to {{ic|literal}}. [https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/258679/why-is-ls-suddenly-surrounding-items-with-spaces-in-single-quotes]
 
 
 
== mkdir ==
 
 
 
[[Wikipedia:mkdir|mkdir]] makes directories.
 
 
 
To create a directory and its whole hierarchy, the {{ic|-p}} switch is used, otherwise an error is printed. As users are supposed to know what they want, {{ic|-p}} switch may be used as a default:
 
  
alias mkdir='mkdir -p -v
+
== Alternatives ==
  
The {{ic|-v}} switch make it verbose.
+
Alternatives to the core utilities in the {{Grp|base}} group are [[BusyBox]], the [[Heirloom|Heirloom Toolchest]], {{Pkg|9base}}, {{AUR|sbase-git}} and {{AUR|ubase-git}}.
  
Changing mode of a just created directory using ''chmod'' is not necessary as the {{ic|-m}} option lets you define the access permissions.
+
=== cp alternatives ===
  
{{Tip|If you just want a temporary directory, a better alternative may be [[Wikipedia:Temporary file|mktemp]] (''make temporary''): {{ic|mktemp -p}}.}}
+
Using [[rsync#As cp/mv alternative]] allows you to resume a failed transfer, to show the transfer status, to skip already existing files and to make sure of the destination files integrity using checksums.
  
== mv ==
+
=== find alternatives ===
  
[[Wikipedia:mv|mv]] moves and renames files and directories.
+
* {{App|fd|Simple, fast and user-friendly alternative to find. Ignores hidden and {{ic|.gitignore}}'d files by default.|https://github.com/sharkdp/fd|{{Pkg|fd}}}}
 +
* {{App|fuzzy-find|Fuzzy completion for finding files.|https://github.com/silentbicycle/ff|{{AUR|ff-git}}}}
 +
* {{App|[[mlocate]]|Merging locate/updatedb implementation.|https://pagure.io/mlocate|{{Pkg|mlocate}}}}
  
To limit potential damage caused by the command, use an alias:
+
For graphical file searchers, see [[List of applications/Utilities#File searching]].
  
alias mv='timeout 8 mv -iv'
+
=== diff alternatives ===
  
This alias suspends ''mv'' after eight seconds, asks confirmation to delete three or more files, lists the operations in progress and does not store itself in the shell history file if the shell is configured to ignore space starting commands.
+
While {{Pkg|diffutils}} does not provide a word-wise diff, several other programs do:
 
 
== od ==
 
 
 
The [[Wikipedia:od (Unix)|od]] (''o''ctal ''d''ump) command is useful for visualizing data that is not in a human-readable format, like the executable code of a program, or the contents of an unformatted device. See the [http://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/html_node/od-invocation.html#od-invocation manual] for more information.
 
 
 
== pv ==
 
 
 
{{Style|Is this article really the place to report bugs?}}
 
 
 
You can use {{Pkg|pv}} (''pipe viewer'') to monitor the progress of data through a pipeline, for example:
 
 
 
# dd if=''/source/filestream'' | pv -''monitor_options'' -s ''size_of_file'' | dd of=''/destination/filestream''
 
 
 
In most cases {{ic|pv}} functions as a drop-in replacement for {{ic|cat}}, however there are undocumented differences. For example, under both Zsh and Bash, the following command hangs forever:
 
 
 
# cat <(pv /usr/share/dict/words)
 
 
 
Use of ''strace'' shows that {{ic|pv}} is stopped with {{ic|SIGTTOU}}.
 
 
 
== rm ==
 
 
 
[[Wikipedia:rm_(Unix)|rm]] removes files or directories.
 
 
 
To limit potential damage caused by the command, use an alias:
 
 
 
alias rm='timeout 3 rm -Iv --one-file-system'
 
 
 
This alias suspends ''rm'' after three seconds, asks confirmation to delete three or more files, lists the operations in progress, does not involve more than one file systems and does not store itself in the shell history file if the shell is configured to ignore space starting commands. Substitute {{ic|-I}} with {{ic|-i}} if you prefer to confirm even for one file.
 
 
 
Zsh users may want to put {{ic|noglob}} before {{ic|timeout}} to avoid implicit expansions.
 
 
 
To remove directories known to be empty, use ''rmdir'' as it fails in case of files inside the target.
 
 
 
== sed ==
 
 
 
[[Wikipedia:sed|sed]] is stream editor for filtering and transforming text.
 
 
 
Here is a handy [http://sed.sourceforge.net/sed1line.txt list] of ''sed'' one-liners examples.
 
 
 
{{Tip|More powerful alternatives are [[Wikipedia:AWK|AWK]] and even [[Wikipedia:Perl|Perl]] language.}}
 
 
 
== seq ==
 
 
 
'''seq''' (''sequence'') is a utility for generating a sequence of numbers. Shell built-in alternatives are available, so it is good practice to use them as explained on [[Wikipedia:Seq (Unix)|Wikipedia]].
 
 
 
== tar ==
 
 
 
As an early Unix compression format, {{ic|tar}} files (known as '''tarballs''') are widely used for packaging in Unix-like operating systems. Both [[pacman]] and [[AUR]] packages are tarballs, and Arch uses [[GNU Project|GNU's]] {{Ic|Tar}} program by default.
 
 
 
For {{ic|tar}} archives, {{Ic|tar}} by default will extract the file according to its extension:
 
 
 
$ tar xvf file.EXTENSION
 
 
 
Forcing a given format:
 
 
 
{| class="wikitable"
 
!File Type    !! Extraction Command
 
|-
 
|{{ic|file.tar}}    || {{Ic|tar xvf file.tar}}
 
|-
 
|{{ic|file.tgz}}    || {{Ic|tar xvzf file.tgz}}
 
|-
 
|{{ic|file.tar.gz}}  || {{Ic|tar xvzf file.tar.gz}}
 
|-
 
|{{ic|file.tar.bz}}  || {{Ic|<nowiki>bzip -cd file.bz | tar xvf -</nowiki>}}
 
|-
 
|{{ic|file.tar.bz2}} || {{Ic|tar xvjf file.tar.bz2}}<br> {{Ic|<nowiki>bzip2 -cd file.bz2 | tar xvf -</nowiki>}}
 
|-
 
|{{ic|file.tar.xz}}  || {{Ic|tar xvJf file.tar.xz}}<br> {{Ic|<nowiki> xz -cd file.xz | tar xvf -</nowiki>}}
 
|}
 
  
The construction of some of these {{Ic|tar}} arguments may be considered legacy, but they are still useful when performing specific operations. The '''Compatibility''' section of {{Ic|tar}}'s [[man page]] shows how they work in detail.
+
* [[git]] diff can do a word diff with {{ic|--color-words}}, using {{ic|--no-index}} it can also be used for files outside of Git working trees.
 +
* {{App|dwdiff|A word diff front-end for the diff program; supports colors.|https://os.ghalkes.nl/dwdiff.html|{{Pkg|dwdiff}}}}
 +
* {{App|GNU wdiff|A wordwise implementation of GNU diff; does not support colors.|https://www.gnu.org/software/wdiff/|{{Pkg|wdiff}}}}
 +
* {{App|cwdiff|A GNU wdiff wrapper that colorizes the output.|https://github.com/junghans/cwdiff|{{AUR|cwdiff}}, {{AUR|cwdiff-git}}}}
 +
* {{App|icdiff|A colorized diff tool written in Python. "Improved color diff" is meant to supplement normal diff use.|https://github.com/jeffkaufman/icdiff|{{AUR|icdiff}},{{AUR|icdiff-git}}}}
  
== which ==
+
See also [[List of applications/Utilities#Comparison, diff, merge]].
  
The [[wikipedia:Which_(Unix)|which]] command is useful to determine the path to an executable, for example:
+
=== grep alternatives ===
  
# journalctl $(which sshd)
+
* {{App|mgrep|A multiline grep.|https://sourceforge.net/projects/multiline-grep/|{{AUR|mgrep}}}}
  
== wipefs ==
+
==== Code searchers ====
  
'''wipefs''' can list or erase [[file system]], [[RAID]] or [[partition|partition-table]] signatures (magic strings) from the specified device. It does not erase the file systems themselves nor any other data from the device.
+
The following three tools aim to replace grep for code search. They do recursive search by default, skip binary files and respect {{ic|.gitignore}}.
  
See wipefs(8) for more information.
+
* {{App|ack|A Perl-based grep replacement, aimed at programmers with large trees of heterogeneous source code.|https://beyondgrep.com/|{{Pkg|ack}}}}
 +
* {{App|ripgrep (rg)|A search tool that combines the usability of ag with the raw speed of grep.|https://github.com/BurntSushi/ripgrep|{{Pkg|ripgrep}}}}
 +
* {{App|The Silver Searcher (ag)|Code searching tool similar to Ack, but faster.|https://github.com/ggreer/the_silver_searcher|{{Pkg|the_silver_searcher}}}}
  
For example, to erase all signatures from the device {{ic|/dev/sdb}} and create a signature backup {{ic|~/wipefs-sdb-''offset''.bak}} file for each signature:
+
==== Interactive filters ====
  
# wipefs --all --backup /dev/sdb
+
* {{App|[[fzf]]|General-purpose command-line fuzzy finder, powered by find by default.|https://github.com/junegunn/fzf|{{Pkg|fzf}}, {{AUR|fzf-git}}}}
 +
* {{App|fzy|A fast, simple fuzzy text selector with an advanced scoring algorithm.|https://github.com/jhawthorn/fzy|{{Pkg|fzy}}, {{AUR|fzy-git}}}}
 +
* {{App|peco|Simplistic interactive filtering tool.|https://github.com/peco/peco|{{AUR|peco}}, {{AUR|peco-git}}}}
 +
* {{App|percol|Adds flavor of interactive filtering to the traditional pipe concept of the UNIX shell.|https://github.com/mooz/percol|{{Pkg|percol}}, {{AUR|percol-git}}}}
  
 
== See also ==
 
== See also ==
  
* [http://www.reddit.com/r/commandline/comments/19garq/a_sampling_of_coreutils_120/ A sampling of coreutils] [http://www.reddit.com/r/commandline/comments/19ge6v/a_sampling_of_coreutils_2040/ , part 2] [http://www.reddit.com/r/commandline/comments/19j1w3/a_sampling_of_coreutils_4060/ , part 3] - Overview of commands in coreutils
+
* [https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/coreutils.html GNU Coreutils documentation]
* [http://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/manual/coreutils.html GNU Coreutils online documentation]
+
* [http://pubs.opengroup.org/onlinepubs/9699919799/idx/utilities.html POSIX utilities]
* [http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/linux-newbie-8/learn-the-dd-command-362506/ Learn the DD command]
 

Latest revision as of 03:37, 31 July 2019

Core utilities are the basic, fundamental tools of a GNU/Linux system. On Arch Linux they are found in the base group. This article provides an incomplete overview of them, links their documentation and describes useful alternatives. The scope of this article includes, but is not limited to, the GNU coreutils. Most core utilities are traditional Unix tools (see Heirloom) and many were standardized by POSIX but have been developed further to provide more features.

Most command-line interfaces are documented in man pages, utilities by the GNU Project are documented primarily in Info manuals, some shells provide a help command for shell builtin commands. Additionally most utilities print their usage when run with the --help flag.

Essentials

The following table lists some important utilities which Arch Linux users should be familiar with. See also intro(1).

Package Utility Description Documentation Alternatives
shell built-ins cd change directory cd(1p)
GNU coreutils ls list directory ls(1), info exa, lsd, tree
cat concatenate files to stdout cat(1), info tac(1), bat
mkdir make directory mkdir(1), info
rmdir remove empty directory rmdir(1), info
rm remove files or directories rm(1), info shred
cp copy files or directories cp(1), info
mv move files or directories mv(1), info
ln make hard or symbolic links ln(1), info
chown change file owner and group chown(1), info chgrp(1)
chmod change file permissions chmod(1), info
dd convert and copy a file dd(1), info
df report file system disk space usage df(1), info
GNU tar tar tar archiver tar(1), info archivers
GNU less less terminal pager less(1) terminal pagers
GNU findutils find search files or directories find(1), info, GregsWiki #find alternatives
GNU diffutils diff compare files line by line diff(1), info #diff alternatives
GNU grep grep print lines matching a pattern grep(1), info #grep alternatives
GNU sed sed stream editor sed(1), info, one-liners
GNU gawk awk pattern scanning and processing language gawk(1), info nawk, mawkAUR
util-linux dmesg print or control the kernel ring buffer dmesg(1) systemd journal
lsblk list block devices lsblk(8)
mount mount a filesystem mount(8)
umount unmount a filesystem umount(8)
su substitute user su(1) sudo
kill terminate a process kill(1) pkill(1), killall(1)
procps-ng pgrep look up processes by name or attributes pgrep(1) pidof(1)
ps show information about processes ps(1) top(1), htop
free display amount of free and used memory free(1)

Preventing data loss

rm, mv, cp and shell redirections happily delete or overwrite files without asking. rm, mv, and cp all support the -i flag to prompt the user before every removal / overwrite. Some users like to enable the -i flag by default using aliases. Relying upon these shell options can be dangerous, because you get used to them, resulting in potential data loss when you use another system or user that does not have them. The best way to prevent data loss is to create backups.

Nonessentials

This table lists core utilities that often come in handy.

Package Utility Description Documentation Alternatives
shell built-ins alias define or display aliases alias(1p)
type print the type of a command type(1p) which(1)
time time a command time(1p)
GNU coreutils tee read stdin and write to stdout and files tee(1), info
mktemp make a temporary file or directory mktemp(1), info
cut print selected parts of lines cut(1), info
tr translate or delete characters tr(1), info
od dump files in octal and other formats od(1), info hexdump(1), vim's xxd(1)
sort sort lines sort(1), info
uniq report or omit repeated lines uniq(1), info
comm compare two sorted files line by line comm(1), info
head output the first part of files head(1), info
tail output the last part of files, or follow files tail(1), info
wc print newline, word and byte count wc(1), info
GNU binutils strings print printable characters in binary files strings(1), info
GNU glibc iconv convert character encodings iconv(1) recode
file file guess file type file(1)

The moreutils package provides useful tools like sponge(1) that are missing from the GNU coreutils.

Alternatives

Alternatives to the core utilities in the base group are BusyBox, the Heirloom Toolchest, 9base, sbase-gitAUR and ubase-gitAUR.

cp alternatives

Using rsync#As cp/mv alternative allows you to resume a failed transfer, to show the transfer status, to skip already existing files and to make sure of the destination files integrity using checksums.

find alternatives

  • fd — Simple, fast and user-friendly alternative to find. Ignores hidden and .gitignore'd files by default.
https://github.com/sharkdp/fd || fd
  • fuzzy-find — Fuzzy completion for finding files.
https://github.com/silentbicycle/ff || ff-gitAUR
  • mlocate — Merging locate/updatedb implementation.
https://pagure.io/mlocate || mlocate

For graphical file searchers, see List of applications/Utilities#File searching.

diff alternatives

While diffutils does not provide a word-wise diff, several other programs do:

  • git diff can do a word diff with --color-words, using --no-index it can also be used for files outside of Git working trees.
  • dwdiff — A word diff front-end for the diff program; supports colors.
https://os.ghalkes.nl/dwdiff.html || dwdiff
  • GNU wdiff — A wordwise implementation of GNU diff; does not support colors.
https://www.gnu.org/software/wdiff/ || wdiff
  • cwdiff — A GNU wdiff wrapper that colorizes the output.
https://github.com/junghans/cwdiff || cwdiffAUR, cwdiff-gitAUR
  • icdiff — A colorized diff tool written in Python. "Improved color diff" is meant to supplement normal diff use.
https://github.com/jeffkaufman/icdiff || icdiffAUR,icdiff-gitAUR

See also List of applications/Utilities#Comparison, diff, merge.

grep alternatives

  • mgrep — A multiline grep.
https://sourceforge.net/projects/multiline-grep/ || mgrepAUR

Code searchers

The following three tools aim to replace grep for code search. They do recursive search by default, skip binary files and respect .gitignore.

  • ack — A Perl-based grep replacement, aimed at programmers with large trees of heterogeneous source code.
https://beyondgrep.com/ || ack
  • ripgrep (rg) — A search tool that combines the usability of ag with the raw speed of grep.
https://github.com/BurntSushi/ripgrep || ripgrep
  • The Silver Searcher (ag) — Code searching tool similar to Ack, but faster.
https://github.com/ggreer/the_silver_searcher || the_silver_searcher

Interactive filters

  • fzf — General-purpose command-line fuzzy finder, powered by find by default.
https://github.com/junegunn/fzf || fzf, fzf-gitAUR
  • fzy — A fast, simple fuzzy text selector with an advanced scoring algorithm.
https://github.com/jhawthorn/fzy || fzy, fzy-gitAUR
  • peco — Simplistic interactive filtering tool.
https://github.com/peco/peco || pecoAUR, peco-gitAUR
  • percol — Adds flavor of interactive filtering to the traditional pipe concept of the UNIX shell.
https://github.com/mooz/percol || percol, percol-gitAUR

See also