Command line text processing with GNU Coreutils

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I've been using Linux since 2007, but it took me ten more years to really explore coreutils for my Command Line Text Processing repository.

Any beginner learning Linux command line tools would come across cat within the first week. Sooner or later, they'll come to know popular text processing tools like grep, head, tail, tr, sort, etc. If you were like me, you'd come across sed and awk, shudder at their complexity and prefer to use a scripting language like Perl and text editors like Vim instead (don't worry, I've already corrected that mistake).

Knowing power tools like grep, sed and awk can help solve most of your text processing needs. So, why would you want to learn text processing tools from the coreutils package? The biggest motivation would be faster execution since these tools are optimized for the use cases they solve. And there's always the advantage of not having to write code (and test that solution) if there's an existing tool to solve the problem.

This book will teach you more than twenty of such specialized text processing tools provided by the GNU coreutils package. Plenty of examples are provided to make it easier to understand a particular tool and its various features.


In my opinion the book does a great job of quickly presenting examples of how commands can be used and then paired up to achieve new or interesting ways of manipulating data. Throughout the text there are little highlights offering tips on extra functionality or limitations of certain commands. For instance, when discussing the shuf command we're warned that shuf will not work with multiple files. However, we can merge multiple files together (using the cat command) and then pass them to shuf. These little gems of wisdom add a dimension to the book and will likely save the reader some time wondering why their scripts are not working as expected.

— book review by Jesse Smith on


Prior experience working with command line and bash shell, should know concepts like file redirection, command pipeline and so on.

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Command line text processing with GNU Coreutils

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