Hack #7-> Grep Command

Grep command is used to search files for a specific text. This is

incredibly powerful command with lots of options.

Syntax: grep [options] pattern [files]

How can I find all lines matching a specific keyword on a


In this example, grep looks for the text John inside /etc/passwd file and

displays all the matching lines.

# grep John /etc/passwd

jsmith:x:1082:1082:John Smith:/home/jsmith:/bin/bash

jdoe:x:1083:1083:John Doe:/home/jdoe:/bin/bash

Option -v, will display all the lines except the match. In the example

below, it displays all the records from /etc/password that doesn’t match


Note: There are several lines in the /etc/password that doesn’t contain

the word John. Only the first line of the output is shown below.

# grep -v John /etc/passwd

jbourne:x:1084:1084:Jason Bourne:/home/jbourne:/bin/bash

How many lines matched the text pattern in a particular


In the example below, it displays the total number of lines that contains

the text John in /etc/passwd file.

# grep -c John /etc/passwd


You can also get the total number of lines that did not match the specific

pattern by passing option -cv.

# grep -cv John /etc/passwd

How to search a text by ignoring the case?

Pass the option -i (ignore case), which will ignore the case while


# grep -i john /etc/passwd

jsmith:x:1082:1082:John Smith:/home/jsmith:/bin/bash

jdoe:x:1083:1083:John Doe:/home/jdoe:/bin/bash

How do I search all subdirectories for a text matching a

specific pattern?

Use option -r (recursive) for this purpose. In the example below, it will

search for the text “John” by ignoring the case inside all the

subdirectories under /home/users.

This will display the output in the format of “filename: line that matching

the pattern”. You can also pass the option -l, which will display only the

name of the file that matches the pattern.

# grep -ri john /home/users

/home/users/subdir1/letter.txt:John, Thanks for your


/home/users/name_list.txt:John Smith

/home/users/name_list.txt:John Doe

# grep -ril john /root



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