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6 Creative Ways to Use Linux Cat Command

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The cat command is one of the most basic and frequently used commands on Linux and other Unix-like operating systems. It allows users to view the contents of a file, concatenate files, create new files, and perform other basic text manipulation tasks.

The name “cat” comes from its similarity to the way a cat brings in prey – it concatenates files.

Tips and tricks for using the cat command in Linux

The cat command is an incredibly versatile and powerful tool that every Linux user should be familiar with. With a little practice, it can be used to perform a wide variety of tasks. Here are some tips and tricks for using the cat command like a pro:

Use the cat command to create a quick and dirty file viewer or editor. Simply type “cat filename” to view the contents of a file, or “cat > filename” to create a new file.
Combine multiple files into a single file using the cat command.

This can be useful for creating a combined log file or combining multiple text files into a single document. To do this, simply type “cat file1 file2 file3 > combined_file”.

Display the contents of a compressed file without decompressing it first by using the zcat command. This can be useful for quickly previewing the contents of a compressed file without having to decompress it first. Simply type “zcat filename.gz | less” to view a gzip-compressed file, or “zcat filename.bz2 | less” to view a bzip2-compressed file.

Use the cat command to troubleshoot problems. For example, you can use the -v flag to display non-printing characters, which can be useful for finding hidden characters that are causing problems.

By following these tips and tricks, you can get the most out of the cat command and use it to perform a variety of tasks. With a little practice, you’ll be a pro in no time.

Related: 10 Examples to use Linux Cat Command

What are the different options for using the cat command in Linux

The cat command has a number of useful flags or arguments that can be used to modify its behavior.

For example, the -n flag causes cat to display line numbers for each line of output, while the -s flag suppresses blank lines.

The -v flag causes non-printing characters to be displayed, which can be useful for debuggin purposes.

Finally, the -T flag tells cat to display a tab character as ^I.

In addition to its basic functionality, the cat command can also be used in a number of creative ways. For example, it can be used to create a quick and dirty file viewer or editor, combine multiple files into a single file, or even display the contents of a compressed file without decompressing it first.

How to troubleshoot with the cat command in Linux

Here are some tips for using the cat command to troubleshoot problems:

  • Use the -v flag to display non-printing characters. This can be useful for finding hidden characters that are causing problems.
  • Use the -T flag to display a tab character as ^I. This can be useful for finding out where tabs are being used in a file, which can sometimes cause problems.
  • Use the -e flag to display $ at the end of each line. This can be useful for finding out where lines are being cut off, which can sometimes cause problems.

The cat command is a powerful and versatile tool that every Linux user should be familiar with. By understanding the different options and flags for using the cat command, you can use it to perform a variety of tasks, including troubleshooting and creating file viewers or editors.

 

David Cao
David Cao

Hey there! I am David, a Cloud & DevOps Enthusiast and 18 years of experience as a Linux engineer. I work with AWS, Git & GitHub, Linux, Python, Ansible, and Bash. I am a technical blogger and a Software Engineer, enjoy sharing my learning and contributing to open-source.