Hack #13 -> Xargs Command

Xargs is a very powerful command that takes output of a command and

pass it as argument of another command.

The following are some practical examples on how to use xargs


  1. When you are trying to delete too many files using rm, you may get

error message: /bin/rm Argument list too long – Linux. Use xargs to avoid

this problem.

find ~ -name ‘*.log’ -print0 | xargs -0 rm -f

  1. Get a list of all the *.conf file under /etc/. There are different ways to

get the same result. Following example is only to demonstrate the use of

xargs. The output of the find command in this example is passed to the

ls –l one by one using xargs.

# find /etc -name “*.conf” | xargs ls –l

  1. If you have a file with list of URLs that you would like to download, you

can use xargs as shown below.

# cat url-list.txt | xargs wget –c

  1. Find out all the jpg images and archive it.


# find / -name *.jpg -type f -print | xargs tar -cvzf images.tar.gz

  1. Copy all the images to an external hard-drive.

# ls *.jpg | xargs -n1 -i cp {} /external-harddrive/directory

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