What is sed?
Sed stands for Stream EDitor. It is called this because input flows through the program to standard out (this output is generally redirected to a file). It is also called a non-interactive editor becaue the user never alters files interactively (like you might on a screen using vi, pico, or emacs). Instead, the user sends a script of editing instructions to sed, plus the name of the file to edit. In this sense, sed works like a filter, able to delete, insert and change characters, words, and lines of text. Sed is very powerful and able to make many changes to many files in only a matter of minutes.

Some basics:
In all probability, the command you need most is the “s” command. It Substitutes one thing for another. The simplest way to do this is like the above examples:

sed ‘s/color/colour/g’ filename

The “g” at the end stands for “global”. What it really means, though, is to replace every occurence on the line. If you leave it off, only the first occurence on each line will be changed.

You will encounter problems if you attempt to use any of the following characters in the string to replace:


These characters have special meaning to sed. If you mean to replace literal occurences of those characters, preface them with a backslash. So, don’t do

sed ‘s/[J.S. Bach {$ for music}]/[Bach, J.S {$ for music}]/’ filename

Instead, do

sed ‘s/[J.S. Bach {$ for music}]/[Bach, J.S {$ for music}]/’ filename

Note that this does not apply to the replacement string.

What if you want to perform more than one such replacement at a time? You might try something like this:

sed ‘s/color/colour/g’ ‘s/flavor/flavour/g’ filename

but it wouldn’t work. sed would look for a file named “g” in the directory “s/flavor/flavour”. The “-e” flag to sed makes it realize that the next option is a part of the script, instead of a filename. You also must use it for the first part of the script, when you have more than one part. So, you would use

sed -e ‘s/color/colour/g’ -e ‘s/flavor/flavour/g’ filename

If you only had one replacement to do, you could still use the “-e” flag, but you don’t need to.

The various commands are applied in the order given to sed, so if you ran

sed -e ‘s/color/colour/g’ -e ‘s/colour/color/g’ filename

it would turn “color” to “colour” and then back to “color”. So, all occurences of “color” or “colour” would end up as “color”. This is an inefficient way to do that, though.

What if you want to replace something that contains a ‘/’ character? This is a common problem with filenames. You could escape each one, like so:

sed ‘s//usr/bin//bin/g’ filename

This is not fun for long pathnames. There is a nice alternative: sed will treat the character immediately after the ‘s’ as the separator, so you could do something like

sed ‘s#/usr/bin#/bin#g’ filename

Using regular expressions
sed can use regular expressions just like ed(1) can. Here are some common uses of regular expressions.

    * The ‘^’ character means the beginning of the line.

      sed ‘s/^Thu /Thursday/’ filename

      will turn “Thu ” into “Thursday”, but only at the beginning of the line. Note that the “g” flag is not used, since you can’t have multiple beginnings of a line. Also note that you don’t need to put the ‘^’ in the replacement string.

    * The ‘$’ character means the end of the line.

      sed ‘s/ $//’ filename

      will replace any space character that occurs at the end of a line. Again, the “g” flag is not used, and the ‘$’ is not used in the replacement string.

      You can “replace” the end of the line, like this:

      sed ‘s/$/EOL/’ filename

      This does not form one long line, but it puts the string “EOL” at the end of each line.

      You can match a blank line by specifying an end-of-line immediately after a beginning-of-line:

      sed ‘s/^$/this used to be a blank line/’ filename

    * The ‘.’ character means “any character”. This does not mean the beginning or end of a line, though. If you were using a log file which had the date in the form “Wed Dec 31 16:00:00 1969″ and wanted to erase the dates and times from a certain month and year, you could use

      sed ‘s/Apr .. ..:..:.. 1980/Apr 1980/g’ filename

    * The square brackets “[]” are used to specify any one of a number of characters. This is useful when you don’t know if a letter will be upper or lower case:

      sed ‘s/[Oo]pen[Ww]in/openwin/g’ filename

    * You can specify a range of characters using a ‘-’ inside the square brackets. This will include any character between (in ASCII terms) the two listed. If you wanted to delete middle initials, you could use

      sed ‘s/ [A-Z]. / /g’ filename

      Notice that the literal period had to be escaped, as mentioned above. Also, we had to go from two spaces (one on each side of the middle initial) to one.

    * If you want to exclude a set or range of characters, use the ‘^’ character as the first thing inside the brackets:

      sed ‘s/ [^A-DHM-Z]. / /g’ filename

      This will delete any middle initials that are not A,B,C,D,H,M,N,…,Z.

    * The ‘*’ character means “any number of the previous character”. This applies both to literal characters and to characters that are a result of using “[]” or ‘.’. For example,

      sed ‘s/ *$//’ filename

      deletes all trailing spaces from each line, while

      sed ‘s/[ ]*$//’ filename

      deletes any sequence of trailing tabs and spaces. It also works when using “[^]“:

      sed ‘s/[ ][^ ]*$//’ filename

      deletes the last word (sequence of non-spaces) on each line.

      It is important to know that ‘*’ will match zero occurences. If you need to match an integer, for example,

      sed ‘s/ [0-9]* / integer /g’ filename

      will turn ” ” into ” integer “, which is not what you want. In this case, you should use

      sed ‘s/ [0-9][0-9]* / integer /g’ filename

      which will demand at least one digit.

    * The combination “.*” means any number of any character. So,

      sed ‘s/col.*lapse/collapse/g’ filename

      will act on any line which contains the letters “col” and then “lapse”, no matter what is in between. The ‘*’ character is greedy: it takes as many characters as it can. So, the above script would turn

    a b col d e f lapse h i j k lapse m n


    a b collapse m n

      instead of

    a b collapse h i j k lapse m n

Substitution and Saving
Up to this point, we have concentrated on deleting things that we match with “[]” and ‘.’. That’s because we had no way of saving what we matched. The “(” and “)” operators will save whatever is found between them. Notice that these parentheses must be preceded by a backslash, while the characters ^$[].* don’t need a backslash to act in a non-literal fashion. The first pair of “()” saves into a place called “1″, and the second pair into “2″, and so on.

sed ‘s/^([A-Z][A-Za-z]*), ([A-Z][A-Za-z]*)/2 1/’ filename

will turn “Lastname, Firstname” into “Firstname Lastname”. Notice how the comma is placed outside the first pair of “()” so it doesn’t get inclued in the last name. Otherwise, the result would be “Firstname Lastname,”.

Sometimes you will want to apply a substitution only to lines that meet some criteria that you can’t specify in the string to be replaced. You do this using something called an “address”. It comes before the “s” command. You can limit the command to a range of lines:

sed ’1,20s/foobar/fubar/g’ filename

The line count is cumulative across files, and starts at 1.

You might want to apply a change only to lines that contain a string:

sed ‘/^Aug/s/Mon /Monday /g’ filename

Or to lines that don’t contain a string:

      using sh or ksh or bash,

      sed ‘/^Aug/!s/Mon /Monday /g’ filename

      using csh or tcsh,

      sed ‘/^Aug/!s/Mon /Monday /g’ filename

You can also apply the command to all lines between (and including) a start string and a stop string:

sed ‘/^Aug/,/^Oct/s/Mon /Monday /g’ filename

Normally sed reads a line, processes it, and prints it out. If you only want to see the lines that your command acted upon, then you don’t want it to print out everyting. The “-n” flag will stop sed from printing after processing. So,

sed -n ‘s/fubar/foobar/g’ filename

will print nothing at all. You must use the ‘p’ flag to the ‘s’ command to make it print out what it has processed:

sed -n ‘s/fubar/foobar/gp’ filename

Sed from a file
If your sed script is getting long, you can put it into a file, like so:

    # This file is named “sample.sed”
    # comments can only appear in a block at the beginning

Then call sed with the “-f” flag:

sed -f sample.sed filename

Or, you can make an executable sed script:

    #!/usr/bin/sed -f
    # This file is named “sample2.sed”

then give it execute permissions:

chmod u+x sample2.sed

and then call it like so:

./sample2.sed filename

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sed》有 2 条评论

  1. Sdanektir 说:

    Hello. I think the article is really interesting. I am even interested in reading more. How soon will you update your blog?

  2. Zashkaser 说:

    Are you from San Diego?


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