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Unix Tip: Sed & Awk -- Still friendly after all these years

Mar 12, 2010, 15:02 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Sandra Henry-Stocker)

"Even after decades of using Unix on thousands of systems, I find that it's still fun to discover various convolutions of sed and awk commands to perform command line wizardry. There's a lot more to each of these tools than those uses I make of these commands on a routine basis. Let's take a look at some one-liners you might not yet have tried.

"One of my long-standing "tricks" for awk is using $NF to print the last field on every line. Since NF represents the number of fields on a line (e.g., 6), $NF represents the value of that last field (e.g., $6). Printing the last field of every line, therefore, might look like this:

$ awk '{print $NF}' myfile

"or this:

$ awk -F: '{print $NF}' /etc/passwd

"depending on whether the file is white space delimited or not."

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