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grep everything //at 09:43 //by abe

from the *grep* dept.

During the OpenRheinRuhr I noticed that a friend of mine didn’t know about zgrep and friends. So I told him what other grep variations I know and he told me about some grep variations I didn’t know about.

So here’s our collection of grep wrappers, derivatives and variations. First I’ll list programs which search for text in different file formats:

grep through whatFixed StringsWildcards / Basic RegExpsExtended RegExpsDebian package
uncompressed text filesfgrepgrepegrepgrep
gzip-compressed text fileszfgrepzgrepzegrepzutils, gzip
bzip2-compressed text filesbzfgrepbzgrepbzegrepbzip2
xz-compressed text filesxzfgrepxzgrepxzegrepxz-utils
uncompressed text files in installed Debian packagesdfgrepdgrepdegrepdebian-goodies
gzip-compressed text files in installed Debian packages-dzgrep-debian-goodies
PDF documents--pdfgreppdfgrep
POD textspodgrep--pmtools
E-Mail folder (mbox, MH, Maildir)-mboxgrep -Gmboxgrep -Emboxgrep
Patches-grepdiffgrepdiff -Epatchutils
Process list--pgrepprocps
Gnumeric spreadsheetsssgrep -Fssgrep?gnumeric
Files in ZIP archives--zipgrepunzip
ID3 tags in MP3s--taggreppertaggrepper
Network packets--ngrepngrep
Tar archives--targrep / ptargrepperl (Experimental only for now)

And then there are also greps for special patterns on more or less normal files:

grep for whatuncompressed filescompressed filesDebian package
PCRE (Perl Compatible Regular Expression)pcregrep (see also the grep -P option)zpcregreppcregrep
IP Address in a given CIDR rangegrepcidr-grepcidr
XPath expressionxml_grep-xml-twig-tools

One question is though still unanswered for us: Is there some kind of meta-grep which chooses per file the right grep from above by looking at the MIME type of the according files, similar to xdg-open.

Other tools which have grep in their name, but are too special to properly fit into the above lists:

  • ext3grep: Tool to help recover deleted files on ext3 filesystems
  • xautomation: Includes a tool named visgrep to grep for subimages inside other images.

Includes contributions by Frank Hofmann and Faidon Liambotis.

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Hackergotchi of Axel Beckert


This is the blog or weblog of Axel Stefan Beckert (aka abe or XTaran) who thought, he would never start blogging... (He also once thought, that there is no reason to switch to this new ugly Netscape thing because Mosaïc works fine. That was about 1996.) Well, times change...

He was born 1975 at Villingen-Schwenningen, made his Abitur at Schwäbisch Hall, studied Computer Science with minor Biology at University of Saarland at Saarbrücken (Germany) and now lives in Zürich (Switzerland), working at the Network Security Group (NSG) of the Central IT Services (Informatikdienste) at ETH Zurich.

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