/* Ajith - Syntax Higlighter - End ----------------------------------------------- */

11.04.2009

Using 'find' command

'find' is one of the useful commands available in Unix/Linux systems. In this article I am trying to use 'find' in a effective way.

Basic syntax of find command as per man page is - find [path...] [expression]
codingfreak find
NOTE: There are many options available for find command which are available in man page for find. Only some of those options are shown in this tutorial.

Finding a particular file in your system
$ find / -name 'filename' 2>/dev/null
$ find / -name 'filename' 2>errors.txt
/ - Start searching from the root directory (i.e / directory)

-name - Given search text is the filename rather than any other attribute of a file 'filename'. Always enclose the filename in single quotes...

NOTE: 2>/dev/null is not related to find tool as such. 2 indicates the error stream in Linux, and /dev/null is the device where anything you send simply disappears. So 2>/dev/null in this case means that while finding for the files, in case any error messages pop up simply send them to /dev/null i.e. simply discard all error messages.

Alternatively you could use 2>error.txt where after the search is completed you would have a file named error.txt in the current directory with all the error messages in it.
$ find -name 'met*'
The above command would start searching for the files that begin with the letters 'met' within the current directory and the directories that are present within the current directory.

If no paths are given, the current directory is used. If no expression is given, the expression ‘-print’ is used.

Searching with respect to type of the file (-type)
$find . -name 'temp'
./keepout/temp
./temp

$find . -name 'temp' -type d
./temp
Where d - directory, p - named pipe (FIFO), f - regular file and so on

Ignoring case-sensitivity (-iname)
$ find /home/temp -iname 'index*'
This command searchs for a file starting with string 'index' without considering the case of the filename. So all files starting with any combination of letters in upper and lower case such as INDEX or indEX or index would be returned.

Searching for a file based on size and time
$ find /home/songs -name '*.mp3' -size -5000k

$ find / -size +10000k
First command finds within a directory called /home/songs, only those mp3 files that have a size less than 5000 Kilobytes.
$ find /home/temp -amin -10 -name '*.c'
$ find /home/temp -atime -2 -name '*.c'
$ find /home/temp -mmin -10 -name '*.c'
$ find /home/temp -mtime -2 -name '*.c'
The 1st command searches for those files that are present in the directory /home/temp and its subdirectories which end in .c and which have been accessed in the last 10 minutes.

The 2nd command does the same but searches for those files that have been accessed in the last 10 hours.

The 3rd and the 4th commands do the same as the 1st and 2nd commands but they search for modified files rather than accessed files. Only if the contents of the files have been modified, would their names be returned in the search results.
$ find / -mount -name 'win*'
This command searches for files starting with the letters 'win' in their filenames. The only difference is that the mounted filesystems would not be searched for this time. This is useful when you have your Windows partitions mounted by default. And a search for 'win' might return many files on those partitions, which you may not be really interested in. This is only one use of -mount parameter.
$ find /home/songs -name 'Metallica*' -and -size +10000k
$ find /home/songs -size +10000k ! -name "Metallica*"
$ find /home/songs -name 'Metallica*' -or -size +10000k
Boolean operators such as AND, OR and NOT make find an extremely useful tool.

The 1st command searches within the directory /songs for files that have their names beginning with 'Metallica' and whose size is greater than 10000 kilobytes (> 10 MB).

The 2nd command searches in the same directory as above case but only for files that are greater than 10MB, but they should not have 'Metallica' as the starting of their filenames.

The 3rd command searches in the same directory for files that begin with 'Metallica' in their names or all the files that are greater than 10 MB in size.

How to apply a unix command to a set of files (-exec) ?
$ find . -name '*.sh' -exec chmod o+r '{}' \; -print
This command will search in the current directory and all sub directories. All files ending with .sh extension will be processed by the chmod -o+r command. The argument '{}' inserts each found file into the chmod command line. The \; argument indicates the exec command line has ended.

The end results of this command is all .sh files have the other permissions set to read access (if the operator is the owner of the file).

Searching for a string in a selection of files (-exec grep ...).
$ find . -exec grep "hello" '{}' \; -print
Prints all files that contain the string 'hello' will have their path printed to standard output.

If you want to just find each file then pass it on for processing use the -q grep option. This finds the first occurrance of the search string. It then signals success to find and find continues searching for more files.
find . -exec grep -q "hello" '{}' \; -print
Finding Empty files (-empty)
$find . -empty
To delete empty files in the current directory:
$ find . -empty -maxdepth 1 -exec rm '{}' \;
For more examples try out

1. linux.ie
2. Devdaily
3. hccfl.edu

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