What are your favorite command line tips or tricks?

In the same vein as my previous question about bash aliases, what are your favorite command line tricks? What command has saved you the most time? What bash features did you never realize existed and now use daily and can’t live without?

Of course, there are the classics:

  • !! - Re-runs the last command you entered
  • sudo !! - Re-runs the last command you entered as a super user

What are yours? (No cheating.)


Just typed calendar in Ubuntu, it brought a list of major events in history that happened today. Good general knowledge.

You can even use sed (I think) to alter the command:


@m1025 Forgot about calendar! Nice shout out.

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screen is one of my favorites. You can do so many things with it. It’s really handy when you want something to keep running after you disconnect from SSH. To disconnect a running screen press ctrl + a, ctrl + d. To see your screens screen -list. To restore one screen -r [somescreenname]

Ctrl+r i.e. reverse search is my favorite.

  • rsync for moving stuff
  • wget is great (especially with the -c (continue) flag)
  • gnu parallel for running batch jobs in…parallel
  • flock for making sure your cron job is only running one instance at any given time
  • the $() for getting the output from a command that was mentioned earlier is great, and you can also
  • I’m not sure where exactly it comes from, I think it ships with perl in deb-based distros, but the rename command is great for bulk-renaming jobs

I love pushd and popd for treating your paths as an array. Good for backtracking and for scripting. Here’s an example:

$ mkdir -p my/test/folder
$ pushd my/test
~/my/test ~
$ pushd folder
~/my/test/folder ~/my/test ~
$ popd
~/my/test ~
$ pwd
$ popd
$ pwd

Wrapping subcommands in $() is pretty brilliant for chaining things together.

For example, you can put together grep and awk to find a docker container via a docker-compose name to execute a script on. A silly example, but it works.

docker exec $(docker ps -aqf "name=$(docker-compose ps | awk '{print $1}'|grep "db")") bash "/run/a/script/"

Here is a simpler example that stops all docker containers:

docker stop $(docker ps -q)

Some GNU readline hotkeys:

Ctrl + W - delete previous argument and add to yank ring Ctrl + Y - paste last item from yank ring Ctrl + U - delete all the symbols left from the cursor Ctrl + K - delete all the symbols right from the cursor

Also, The hash which keeps track of the number of times you’ve called a given outer command within the current shell:

[cvetomir@localhost:~]$ hash hits command 1 /usr/bin/pwgen 1 /usr/bin/vim 2 /bin/ls

Which :)

which name, for instance where is the dnf command on fedora… which dnf gives /usr/bin/dnf

rsync I love rsync… I rsync all over the place…backups…moving websites to another folder…you can even rsync to another server with ssh:

rsync -e -av --recursive --progress  --rsh='ssh -p3222  ~/folder

It is pretty handy when you need to know if were a failure or to audit the system login, restart, or shutdown. instead of SSH! with several plugins.