Linux xargs command

The xargs command in Linux is used to build and execute commands from standard input or the output of other commands. It takes input and converts it into command-line arguments for another command. xargs is particularly useful when you want to perform an operation on multiple files, directories, or lines of text.

Here’s an overview of how to use the xargs command:

  1. Basic Usage:
    The most basic usage of xargs is to take input from standard input (stdin) and convert it into arguments for a specified command. For example:
   echo "file1.txt file2.txt file3.txt" | xargs ls -l

This command will pass the space-separated file names (file1.txt, file2.txt, file3.txt) as arguments to the ls -l command, displaying detailed information about each file.

  1. Handling Input Format:
    By default, xargs expects the input to be separated by whitespace (spaces, tabs, or newlines). However, you can modify the input format using options such as -d (delimiter) or -0 (null-delimited input).
  2. Examples:
  • Running a command on multiple files: find . -name "*.txt" | xargs rm This command uses find to locate all files with the .txt extension and passes them as arguments to the rm command, effectively deleting all the matching files.
  • Executing a command on each line of a file: cat file.txt | xargs -I {} echo "Line: {}" This command reads each line of file.txt, and for each line, it executes the echo command, replacing {} with the content of the line.
  • Running commands in parallel:
    cat files.txt | xargs -P 4 -n 1 gzip
    This command reads the file names from files.txt and runs the gzip command on each file. The -P 4 option specifies that up to 4 commands can run in parallel.

The xargs command allows you to process input from different sources and transform it into command-line arguments for other commands. It provides flexibility and efficiency when working with large sets of files, directories, or text.

For more information about the xargs command and its options, you can refer to the manual page by typing man xargs in your terminal.