Daily Dev Log: "--help" vs. "man"

2019 Jun 24

We just can’t remember options of CLI tools. In most cases, --help, like grep --help, is the go-to way to look for help.

For example, if you forget what -H of grep does.

$ grep --help | grep -- -H
  -H, --with-filename       print the file name for each match

man is too formal, wordy and overwhelming, comparing with --help. Usually, we can find out most of what we want in the output of --help, without turning to man.

In some environments, man pages may not be available there. One such example is Git Bash for Windows. Commands in Git Bash for Windows don’t have man pages. Relying on man only means you have to google the man(ual) in the browsers.

To save some typing, a bash function can also be added into the ~/.bashrc.

h() { $1 --help; }

Then type h grep to show the help.

Note that different commands or different variants of a command may print help text in different verbosity. For example, the builtin grep in OS X prints help text like below.

$ grep --help
usage: grep [-abcDEFGHhIiJLlmnOoqRSsUVvwxZ] [-A num] [-B num] [-C[num]]
	[-e pattern] [-f file] [--binary-files=value] [--color=when]
	[--context[=num]] [--directories=action] [--label] [--line-buffered]
	[--null] [pattern] [file ...]

It’s much less than the Linux grep’s help text. (Most of CLI tools support this level of help text at least.)

Daily Dev Log: "su - app" vs. "su app"

2019 Jan 24

From man su,

   -, -l, --login
      Provide an environment similar to what the user would expect had the user logged in directly.

So with su - app, after switch to the user app, you end up in the user’s HOME directory, and have the user’s ~/.bash_profile (not ~/.bashrc) executed.

Tools like RVM need a “login shell”.

RVM by default adds itself currently to ~/.bash_profile file

So if use su app, RVM will not be ready there for you after su.

Daily Dev Log: Avoid the Pitfall of Using the Same File to Redirect Input and Output

2019 Jan 15


Do Not Use the Same File to Redirect Input and Output

tr -d '\015' <DOS-file >DOS-file

The above command will delete all content in the file!

From man bash,

[n]>word, if it does exist it is truncated to zero size.

(How did I find the file back? Luckily, the working directory is managed by Dropbox, and I found it back in the Dropbox.)


Convert Line Endings from DOS/Windows Style to Unix/Linux Style

tr -d '\015' <DOS-file >UNIX-file

(For what character \015 is, see man 7 ascii or ascii '\015' if the ascii command is installed.)

More ascii Command Examples

$ ascii '\r'
ASCII 0/13 is decimal 013, hex 0d, octal 015, bits 00001101: called ^M, CR
Official name: Carriage Return
C escape: '\r'
Other names: 

Search Manuals

-k Search the short descriptions and manual page names for the keyword

$ man -k ascii
ascii (1)            - report character aliases
ascii (7)            - ASCII character set encoded in octal, decimal, and hexadecimal

Daily Dev Log: Find Lines in One File but Not in Another

2018 Dec 12

We can use comm to find lines in one file but not in another file

# fine lines only in file-a
comm -23 file-a file-b

From comm --help,

-2 suppress column 2 (lines unique to FILE2)

-3 suppress column 3 (lines that appear in both files)

So to find lines exist in both file-a and file-b.

comm -12 file-a file-b

Google keywords: “linux command two file not contain” hit link