The Gippy Pages


Command line goodness

May 1, 2005 | Computers | By Shawn Parker

Just learned these and thought I’d log it for posterity (and so I don’t forget). I’m always looking to do things, fun things, in the terminal and thought these were cool.

The first is a way to easily add that long, long path to your next command in Terminal. Say you’re looking to see what’s in a directory and you do:

ls -alh /etc/httpd

to see all your config files for apache. Now, you don’t want to type the path in again, so lets use the !$ command to auto append the last word you typed to the next command.

So the last word you typed was: /etc/httpd without the trailing slash, so don’t forget that the added string is literal and we need to make sure the new string is complete, so we write:

vim !$/httpd.conf.bak

From that Terminal will build the full command as

vim /etc/httpd/httpd.conf.bak

It doesn’t get much easier than that. /etc/httpd was but one example, just image not having to dive back into typing /usr/local/program/build/db/conf/ or whatever stupidly long path you need to type.

Beggining and End of line

I often times will screw up a command and mistype the command I want to run. Terminal will tell me the command was not found, so I use the up arrow to get the last command and see that I accidentally wrote vin instead of vim. Easily changed – use CTL-A to get to the beginning to the line and fix that typo. Forget to put a statement on the end, now use CTL-R to get to the end of the line. Easy to do, easy to forget as well.

Last, but not least, awk.

awk will take the out put of a command and only print the column you’re looking for. The standard column delimiter is whitespace, so use the -F flag to give it one of your own.

A good example is to check the last few hits to the webserver, this is easy with the tail command and awk. Here is a typical line of an httpd access log. - - [30/Apr/2005:23:42:04 -0600] "GET /~sparker/oop/css/oop.css HTTP/1.1" 200 107

What we want is between the quotes, so we do:

tail /private/var/log/httpd/access_log | awk -F\" '{print $2}'

Note the backslash in front of the quote character – this is needed for single and double quotes so they’re treated as literal characters and not part of the command.

This brings back:

GET /~sparker/oop/css/oop.css HTTP/1.1

That gives us the method, url, and http code for the request. If we just wanted the url then we could do:

tail /private/var/log/httpd/access_log | awk '{print $7}'

which would bring back:


Well, that’s it for now. Don’t know if I’ll keep doing this but I just might. I like digging around in the command line but have much to learn about its subtleties.

Tagged as: terminal, efficiency, keyboard shortcuts