Here are some old skool Bash tips and tricks that I think I wrote for someone about ten years ago.
Extended globbing… 🔗︎
The first function we’re going to look at is extended glob matching. This nifty option allows you to do more sophisicated glob matching than provided in standard Bash, for example match all files except those with a suffix of
.tmp. Extended globbing is enabled via the
shopt, or shell options built-in:
$ shopt -s extglob
TIP   You can also run
shopt on its own to see what other options, features and secrets are it offers. Another useful globbing option is
extglob option is on we can
ls a directory and return all files except those suffixed by
.tmp by using the simple syntax:
$ ls !(*.tmp)
Or you can match multiple patterns:
$ ls !(*.tmp|*.log|*.bak)
You can use a small selection of other extglob syntaxes including:
- ?(pattern-list) Matches zero or one occurrence of the given patterns
- *(pattern-list) Matches zero or more occurrences of the given patterns
- +(pattern-list) Matches one or more occurrences of the given patterns
- @(pattern-list) Matches exactly one of the given patterns
- !(pattern-list) Matches anything except one of the given patterns
cdspell shell option 🔗︎
Another useful and little known shell option is
cdspell option will correct minor spelling mistakes in your
cd commands. You can enable
cdspell using the
$ shopt -s cdspell
Now type a simple change directory mistake, for example:
$ cd /ect /etc
And presto your little mistake is corrected and Bash has changed you to the right directory.
$ pwd /etc
cdspell option will correct transposed characters, missing characters and drop any extra characters.
autocd shell option 🔗︎
autocd option allows you to type the name of a directory (in the current directory) and automatically change into it.You can enable
autocd using the
$ shopt -s autocd
Now change into the root directory and type the name of a directory you want to change into.
$ cd / $ etc cd -- etc $ pwd /etc
And Bash has changed you to the
Better Bash history 🔗︎
One of the most useful Bash functions is the ability to retain a history of the commands you’ve used. You can use the
history command to return a list previously executed commands. You can then use the exclamation mark or bang,
!, to retrieve and run previous commands in the Bash shell. For example, you can specify a command from your history by number:
Would run the 110th command in your history. Or you can specify the command by name:
Would run the last
wget command executed.
Less well known are the variations on this:
Which returns the command portion of the previous command executed, for example:
$ wget https://www.google.com $ !:0 $ wget
To get the arguments rather than the command you would use:
$ mkdir /tmp/newdirectory $ cd !* cd /tmp/newdirectory
Your history, however, can become cluttered with repeated commands and commands you may wish to retrieve such as
ps. Bash has an environment variable called
$HISTIGNORE to only retain the history you want, rather than every command. Let’s look at my
$ HISTIGNORE="&:history:ls:ls * ps:ps -A:[bf]g:exit"
This configuration will prevent repeated commands (the
& symbol), and the
ps -A binaries and the
exit built-in commands from being logged to your command history. Another useful trick is to add
[ \t]* which prevents any command starting with a space from being logged in your command history. Finally, we just need to export the variable:
$ export HISTIGNORE
Interactive history search 🔗︎
Did you also know that, in addition to trimming your Bash history, you can also interactively search from your Bash history? You can type
Ctrl-r to enable the search function (this may be familiar to some Emacs users and like Emacs you can also use
Ctrl-e, go to the start and end of a command respectively amongst other short-cuts). This will launch the following prompt:
Then type a command or portion of a command to search through your Bash history and display matching commands. If you find the command you wish you can then run it by hitting Enter or return the matched result to the command line to edit it by hitting
Most people know about the alias command that allows you to create modified versions of commands, for example adding the
-r option to the
rm command or the
-p option to the
$ alias rm='rm -r' $ alias mkdir='mkdir -p'
TIP   You would generally save your aliases in your Bash configuration.
You can also run the
alias command without flags to get a list of the currently enabled aliases.
But you may not know about the
unalias command. This allows you to run the command without the alias:
$ unalias rm /tmp/file
You can also use the
\ symbol to achieve the same result:
$ \rm /tmp/file
This will run the
rm command without the
-r option that would have been added by the alias.