IC221: Systems Programming (SP16)

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Lab 01: File Permissions/Ownership and Unix Familiarization and Command Line Tools

Table of Contents

1 File Permissions and Ownership chmod and chown

Continuing our exploration of the UNIX file system and command line operations, we now turn our attention to the file ownership and permissions. One of the most important services that the OS provides is security oriented, ensuring that the right user access the right file in the right way.

Lets first remind ourselves of the properties of a file that are returned by running ls -l:

.- Directory?
|    .-------Permissions                   .- Directory Name
| ___|___     .----- Owner                 |
v/       \    V     ,---- Group            V
drwxr-x--x 4 aviv scs 4096 Dec 17 15:14 ic221
-rw------- 1 aviv scs 400  Dec 19  2013 .ssh/id_rsa.pub
                       ^   \__________/    ^   
File Size -------------'       |           '- File Name
  in bytes                     |              
   Last Modified --------------'

There are two important parts to this discussion: the owner/group and the permissions. The owner and the permissions are directly related to each other. Often permissions are assigned based on user status to the file, either being the owner or part of a group of users who have certain access to the file.

1.1 File Ownership and Groups

The owner of a file is the user that is directly responsible for the file and has special status with respect to the file permission. Users can also be grouped together in group, a collection of users who posses the same permissions. A file also has a group designation to specify which permission should apply.

You all are already aware of your username. You use it all the time, and it should be a part of your command prompt. To have UNIX tell you your username, use the command, who am i:

aviv@saddleback: ~ $ who am i
aviv     pts/24       2014-12-29 10:44 (potbelly.academy.usna.edu)

The first part of the output is the username, for me that is aviv, for you it will be your username. The rest of the information in the output refers to the terminal, the time the terminal was created, and from which host you are connected. We will learn about terminals later in the semester. (And yes, I name my computers after pigs.)

You can determine which groups you are in using the groups command.

aviv@saddleback: ~ $ groups
scs sudo

On this computer, I am in the scs group which is for computer science faculty members. I am also in the sudo group, which is for users who have super user access to the machine. Since saddleback is my personal work computer, I have sudo access.

1.2 The password and group file

Groupings are defined in two places. The first is a file called /etc/passwd which manages all the users of the system. Here is my /etc/passwd entry:

aviv@saddleback: ~ $ grep aviv /etc/passwd
aviv:x:35001:10120:Adam Aviv {}:/home/scs/aviv:/bin/bash

The first two parts of that file describe the userid and groupid, which are 35001 and 10120, respectively. These numbers are the actual group and user names, but Unix nicely converts these numbers into names for our convenience. The translation between userid and username is in the password file. The translation between groupid and group name is in the group file, /etc/group. Here is the SCS entry in the group file:

aviv@saddleback: ~ $ grep scs /etc/group

There you can see that the users webadmin, www-data, lucas and slack are also in the SCS group. While my username is not listed directly, I am still in the scs group as defined by the entry in the password file.

Take a moment to explore these files and the commands. See what groups you are in.

1.3 File Permissions

We can now turn our attention to the permission string. A permission is simply a sequence of 9 bits broken into 3 octets of 3 bits each. An octet is a base 8 number that goes from 0 to 7, and 3 bits uniquely define an octet since all the numbers between 0 and 7 can be represented in 3 bits.

Within an octet, there are three permission flags, read, write and execute. These are often referred to by their short hand, r, w, and x. The setting of a permission to on means that the bit is 1. Thus for a set of possible permission states, we can uniquely define it by an octal number

rwx -> 1 1 1 -> 7
r-x -> 1 0 1 -> 5
--x -> 0 0 1 -> 1
rw- -> 1 1 0 -> 6

A full file permission consists of the octet set in order of user, group, and global permission.

 ,-Directory Bit
|       ,--- Global Permission
v      / \
  |  `--Group Permission
   `-- User Permission

These define the permission for the user of the file, what users in the same group of the file, and what everyone else can do. For a full permission, we can now define it as 3 octal numbers:

-rwxrwxrwx -> 111 111 111 -> 7 7 7 
-rwxrw-rw- -> 111 110 110 -> 7 6 6
-rwxr-xr-x -> 111 101 101 -> 7 5 5

To change a file permission, you use the chmod command and indicate the new permission through the octal. For example, in part5 directory, there is an executable file hello_world. Let's try and execute it. To do so, we insert a ./ in the front to tell the shell to execute the local file.

> ./hello_world
-bash: ./hello_world: Permission denied

The shell returns with a permission denied. That's because the execute bit is not set.

#> ls -l hello_world 
-rw------- 1 aviv scs 7856 Dec 23 13:51 hello_world

Let's start by making the file just executable by the user, the permission 700. And now we can execute the file:

#> chmod 700 hello_world 
#> ls -l hello_world
-rwx------ 1 aviv scs 7856 Dec 23 13:51 hello_world
#> ./hello_world
Hellow World!

This file can only be execute by the user, not by anyone else because the permissions for the group and the world are still 0. To add group and world permission to execute, we use the permission setting 711:

#> chmod 711 hello_world 
#> ls -l hello_world 
-rwx--x--x 1 aviv scs 7856 Dec 23 13:51 hello_world

At times using octets can be cumbersome, for example, when you want to set all the execute or read bits but don't want to calculate the octet. In those cases you can use shorthands.

  • r, w, x shorthands for permission bit read, write and execute
  • The + indicates to add a permission, as in +x or +w
  • The - indicates to remove a permission, as in -x or -w
  • u, g, a shorthand's for permission bit user, group, and global (or all)

Then we can change the permission

chmod +x file   <-- set all the execute bits
chmod a+r file  <-- set the file world readable
chmod -r  file  <-- unset all the read bits
chmod gu+w file <-- set the group and user write bits to true

Depending on the situations, both the octets and the shorthand's are preferred.

1.4 Changing File Ownership and Group

The last piece of the puzzle is how do we change the ownership and group of a file. Two commands:

  • chown user file/directory : change owner of the file/directory to the user
  • chgrp group file.directory : change group of the file to the group

Permission to change the owner of a file is reserved only for the super user for security reasons. However, changing the group of the file is reserved only for the owner.

aviv@saddleback: demo $ ls -l
total 16
-rwxr-x--- 1 aviv scs 9133 Dec 29 10:39 helloworld
-rw-r----- 1 aviv scs   99 Dec 29 10:39 helloworld.cpp
aviv@saddleback: demo $ chgrp mids helloworld
aviv@saddleback: demo $ ls -l
total 16
-rwxr-x--- 1 aviv mids 9133 Dec 29 10:39 helloworld
-rw-r----- 1 aviv scs    99 Dec 29 10:39 helloworld.cpp

Note now the hello world program is in the mids group. I can still execute it because I am the owner:

aviv@saddleback: demo $ ./helloworld 
Hello World

However if I were to change the owner, to say, pepin, we get the following error:

  aviv@saddleback: demo $ chown pepin helloworld
chown: changing ownership of ‘helloworld’: Operation not permitted

Consider why this might be. If any user can change the ownership of a file, then they could potentially upgrade or downgrade the permissions of files inadvertently, violating a security requirement. As such, only the super user, or the administrator, can change ownership settings.

2 Lab Preliminaries

2.0.1 Lab Learning Goals

The goal of this lab are:

  1. To familiarize yourself with the Linux environment
  2. To learn the manual pages
  3. To learn about file permissions
  4. To learn file parsing command line tools
  5. To learn to create text files

2.0.2 Lab Setup:

  • Run the following command in your terminal
  • Then change into the following directory
cd ic221/labs/01
  • You will find all the material you need to complete this lab in that directory.
  • During the course of this lab, we will refer to the ic221/labs/01 as the lab directory

2.0.3 Lab Worksheet

Where indicated through lab questions and directed work, you may be asked to answer questions on a worksheet or create files. You should do so in the lab directory.

2.0.4 Lab Submission

To submit this lab you will place all relevant content into your lab directory:


Then issue the submission script


Select your section number and the option for labs/01, and confirm. If you see SUCCESS at the end. You may submit multiple times up until the submission deadline. Only your final submission will be considered for grading.

2.1 Part 1: The Man Pages

One of Unix'es greatest features is that it is self-documenting through a set of manuals. To access the manuals, you use the man command. Let's start by looking at the manual page for ls:

aviv@mich342csdtestu:~$man ls

This brings up the manual page, whose header looks like this:

LS(1)                                             User Commands                                            LS(1)

       ls - list directory contents

       ls [OPTION]... [FILE]...

       List information about the FILEs (the current directory by default).  Sort entries alphabetically if none
       of -cftuvSUX nor --sort is specified.

       Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too.

       -a, --all
              do not ignore entries starting with .

       -A, --almost-all
              do not list implied . and ..

The manual page provides both a brief description of the command and the arguments and options. For example, we see that the option -a or --all both list all entries for the directory, including . and .. and all hidden files starting with . while, conversely, the -A or --almost-all option list all hidden files while not displaying the . or .. entries.

This is just one of many options for the ls command, and you can scroll down using the up and down arrow key. You can quit the manual page using q, and if you need to panic C^g until you can hit q and exit.

2.1.1 Lab Questions and Tasks

Perform the following tasks and answer the following questions in the worksheet.txt file found in your lab directory.

  1. For the ls command, what option prints information out in long form, like -l, but does not print any file ownership information? In the worksheet, provide a copy of the output using ls with this option run from the top level of the lab directory.
  2. Change into the part1 directory and type ls. You will see a list of files a b c d e f g.
    1. Note that ls lists the files in alphabetic order. What ls option will list the files in reverse alphabetic order? Provide a copy of your output of your ls with the addition of -l in your worksheet.
    2. What ls options will sort the files by size from smallest to largest? Provide a copy of your output of your ls with the addition of -l in your worksheet.
    3. What ls option will sort the files in reverse size order from largest to smallest. Provide a copy of your output of your ls with the addition of -l in your worksheet.
  3. Remove the g file using the rm command. Notice that the shell asked you to confirm removing the item. Look at the manual for rm, what option must have been invoked when you issued that command? What option can you use to avoid having to confirm the removal of an item?
  4. (Challenge) Read the manual page for the touch command. One of the uses for touch is to update the last modified timestamp of a file (you can view that last modified using ls -l). Use the touch command to create a file y2k whose last modification time was Dec. 31 1999 at 23:59.59. Include the command you used on your worksheet and a copy of your ls -l output of the y2k file.

2.2 Part 2: cat, less and more

Another really import part of using the command line tools is to be able to read/view the contents of files. There are a number of ways to do this without the command line, for example, you could just open the file in an editor like emacs or gedit, but as Unix users, we know there must be a better way if we are only viewing the contents of the file.

2.2.1 Viewing files with cat

If you can think of the most basic functionality for viewing the file, this would include just printing the contents of the file directly to the terminal screen. The command to do just that is the cat command, which is short for concatenate. Here is the man page synopsis for cat:

     cat -- concatenate and print files

     cat [-benstuv] [file ...]

     The cat utility reads files sequentially, writing them to the standard output.  The file operands
     are processed in command-line order.  If file is a single dash (`-') or absent, cat reads from the
     standard input.  If file is a UNIX domain socket, cat connects to it and then reads it until EOF.
     This complements the UNIX domain binding capability available in inetd(8).

More simply, the cat command takes a file or sequence of files, and writes them to standard out, which is the terminal. Let's do a quick example. Navigate to part2 in the lab directory, and let's cat the output of the GoNavy.txt file:

#> cat GoNavy.txt
Beat Army!

The output of the cat command, printed to the terminal standard out, is "Beat Army!". You should verify contents of the file by opening it an editor.

cat can also take multiple files as input, and print there contents to the terminal one after the other, or, another way to put it, cat will concatenate the contents of two files by printing it to standard output.

Let's use the cat command to view the contents of the files in part2 of the lab directory. Use cd to navigate to there now.

#> cat BeatArmy.txt GoNavy.txt
Go Navy!
Beat Army!

As you can see the contents of BeatArmy.txt is "Go Navy!" and the contents of GoNavy.txt is "Beat Army!. The concatenation of those contents is "Go Navy! Beat Army!" across two lines.

2.2.2 Viewing files with less and more

One draw back of viewing files with cat is that it clutters up your terminal, and any reasonable Unix user hates a cluttered terminal. You could always clear your terminal using clear or C^l (Control-l) — go ahead and try that now — but it can get bothersome the more you need to do so.

Instead, Unix provides two ways to view a file within a terminal application: less and more. In the jocular style of Unix design, less is more and more is less. The basic difference between the two file viewers is that less allows you to go forward and backwards in a file while more only allows you to move forward in the file, exiting at the end. Thus, in Unix, less is really more than more.

Let's see an example of why this is useful. Consider two great authors of literature, Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway. Dickens was paid by the word and so his stories are very long indeed, while Hemingway was a minimalist, and his stories were quite short. In the part2 directory you have two text files, one named dickens.txt and one named hemingway.txt.

We can easily read hemingway.txt using more, it just moves forward in the file by pressing :space: to page down or the arrow key :down:. The indicator at the bottom of the more screen


Describes how far in the file we've progressed. Lets now use more to read dickens.txt … oh man! This is going to take forever, and there is only one way to go, forward. Clearly, we need a more powerful viewer, so we use less. The less terminal allows you to move forward and back, plus a bunch of other useful navigation tools. Here are some below

less Navigation

  • To quit: q
  • To search forward: / then type your search (regex allowed) then use the following
    • Find Next match going forwards: n
    • Find Prev match going backwards: N
  • To search backward: ? then type your search (regex allowed) then use the following
    • Find Prev going backwards: n
    • Find Next going forwards: N
  • Go To line: : the type line number
  • Start of File: <
  • End of File: >
  • Panic: C-g mash this if you are in a state you don't understand

2.2.3 Lab Questions and Tasks:

  1. Use cat to place a "Beat Army!" at the start of Hemmingway's a very short story and "Go Navy!" at the end. Include the command you used on your worksheet.
  2. Why is less more?
  3. Use less to open dickens.txt:
    1. Search for the first instance of "Fagin", what is the line of that text?
    2. Find the second to last instance of "Fagin". Describe how you did that and the sentence it appears in.
    3. Go to line 1845, what is the name of that chapter?

2.3 Part 3: Viewing Files with head, tail, sed and grep

When we do want to print the contents of a file to the terminal, we may not want to print the whole thing, as cat does. Instead, sometimes we'd like just to print the first n lines, or the last n lines, or some set of lines in the middle, or just print lines that match a given search string. For that we have set of very useful commands.

For the following examples, navigate to the part4 directory in the lab directory. There is a sample file sample-db.csv that you will use for this part that contains fake records of people entering information on a web server.

2.3.1 View the first or last n lines with head or tail

The head command line tools is used to print the head of the file. By default, head prints the first 10 lines:

#> head sample-db.csv 
James,Butt,Benton, John B Jr,6649 N Blue Gum St,New Orleans,Orleans,LA,70116,504-621-8927,504-845-1427,jbutt@gmail.com,http://www.bentonjohnbjr.com
Josephine,Darakjy,Chanay, Jeffrey A Esq,4 B Blue Ridge Blvd,Brighton,Livingston,MI,48116,810-292-9388,810-374-9840,josephine_darakjy@darakjy.org,http://www.chanayjeffreyaesq.com
Art,Venere,Chemel, James L Cpa,8 W Cerritos Ave #54,Bridgeport,Gloucester,NJ,08014,856-636-8749,856-264-4130,art@venere.org,http://www.chemeljameslcpa.com
Lenna,Paprocki,Feltz Printing Service,639 Main St,Anchorage,Anchorage,AK,99501,907-385-4412,907-921-2010,lpaprocki@hotmail.com,http://www.feltzprintingservice.com
Donette,Foller,Printing Dimensions,34 Center St,Hamilton,Butler,OH,45011,513-570-1893,513-549-4561,donette.foller@cox.net,http://www.printingdimensions.com
Simona,Morasca,Chapman, Ross E Esq,3 Mcauley Dr,Ashland,Ashland,OH,44805,419-503-2484,419-800-6759,simona@morasca.com,http://www.chapmanrosseesq.com
Mitsue,Tollner,Morlong Associates,7 Eads St,Chicago,Cook,IL,60632,773-573-6914,773-924-8565,mitsue_tollner@yahoo.com,http://www.morlongassociates.com
Leota,Dilliard,Commercial Press,7 W Jackson Blvd,San Jose,Santa Clara,CA,95111,408-752-3500,408-813-1105,leota@hotmail.com,http://www.commercialpress.com
Sage,Wieser,Truhlar And Truhlar Attys,5 Boston Ave #88,Sioux Falls,Minnehaha,SD,57105,605-414-2147,605-794-4895,sage_wieser@cox.net,http://www.truhlarandtruhlarattys.com

Similarly, tail by default will show the last 10 lines:

#> tail sample-db.csv 
Carlee,Boulter,Tippett, Troy M Ii,8284 Hart St,Abilene,Dickinson,KS,67410,785-347-1805,785-253-7049,carlee.boulter@hotmail.com,http://www.tippetttroymii.com
Thaddeus,Ankeny,Atc Contracting,5 Washington St #1,Roseville,Placer,CA,95678,916-920-3571,916-459-2433,tankeny@ankeny.org,http://www.atccontracting.com
Jovita,Oles,Pagano, Philip G Esq,8 S Haven St,Daytona Beach,Volusia,FL,32114,386-248-4118,386-208-6976,joles@gmail.com,http://www.paganophilipgesq.com
Alesia,Hixenbaugh,Kwikprint,9 Front St,Washington,District of Columbia,DC,20001,202-646-7516,202-276-6826,alesia_hixenbaugh@hixenbaugh.org,http://www.kwikprint.com
Lai,Harabedian,Buergi & Madden Scale,1933 Packer Ave #2,Novato,Marin,CA,94945,415-423-3294,415-926-6089,lai@gmail.com,http://www.buergimaddenscale.com
Brittni,Gillaspie,Inner Label,67 Rv Cent,Boise,Ada,ID,83709,208-709-1235,208-206-9848,bgillaspie@gillaspie.com,http://www.innerlabel.com
Raylene,Kampa,Hermar Inc,2 Sw Nyberg Rd,Elkhart,Elkhart,IN,46514,574-499-1454,574-330-1884,rkampa@kampa.org,http://www.hermarinc.com
Flo,Bookamer,Simonton Howe & Schneider Pc,89992 E 15th St,Alliance,Box Butte,NE,69301,308-726-2182,308-250-6987,flo.bookamer@cox.net,http://www.simontonhoweschneiderpc.com
Jani,Biddy,Warehouse Office & Paper Prod,61556 W 20th Ave,Seattle,King,WA,98104,206-711-6498,206-395-6284,jbiddy@yahoo.com,http://www.warehouseofficepaperprod.com
Chauncey,Motley,Affiliated With Travelodge,63 E Aurora Dr,Orlando,Orange,FL,32804,407-413-4842,407-557-8857,chauncey_motley@aol.com,http://www.affiliatedwithtravelodge.com

You can describe how many lines you wish to show in two ways, either by using -n argument, where n is replaced by the number of lines. For example, to print the first 3 lines:

#> head -3 sample-db.csv 
James,Butt,Benton, John B Jr,6649 N Blue Gum St,New Orleans,Orleans,LA,70116,504-621-8927,504-845-1427,jbutt@gmail.com,http://www.bentonjohnbjr.com
Josephine,Darakjy,Chanay, Jeffrey A Esq,4 B Blue Ridge Blvd,Brighton,Livingston,MI,48116,810-292-9388,810-374-9840,josephine_darakjy@darakjy.org,http://www.chanayjeffreyaesq.com

Or, by passing the number of lines, following -n like -n 3:

>head -n 3 sample-db.csv 
James,Butt,Benton, John B Jr,6649 N Blue Gum St,New Orleans,Orleans,LA,70116,504-621-8927,504-845-1427,jbutt@gmail.com,http://www.bentonjohnbjr.com
Josephine,Darakjy,Chanay, Jeffrey A Esq,4 B Blue Ridge Blvd,Brighton,Livingston,MI,48116,810-292-9388,810-374-9840,josephine_darakjy@darakjy.org,http://www.chanayjeffreyaesq.com

2.3.2 Printing intermediate lines with sed

The sed command is very powerful, and it has many more features than just printing intermediary lines. We will explore some of those features later in the course but today just focus on intermediary line printing.

Here is the format of the sed command:

Line Number Input
      |          ,--File to process
      v          v
 sed -n 3,10p filename
        ^  ^^ 
Start---'  ||
Finish-----''---Print those lines

As example, what if we want to print the first 3 lines of the database file without including the index, the line starting with #. Then, we'd like to print lines 2 through 4.

#> sed -n 2,4p sample-db.csv 
James,Butt,Benton, John B Jr,6649 N Blue Gum St,New Orleans,Orleans,LA,70116,504-621-8927,504-845-1427,jbutt@gmail.com,http://www.bentonjohnbjr.com
Josephine,Darakjy,Chanay, Jeffrey A Esq,4 B Blue Ridge Blvd,Brighton,Livingston,MI,48116,810-292-9388,810-374-9840,josephine_darakjy@darakjy.org,http://www.chanayjeffreyaesq.com
Art,Venere,Chemel, James L Cpa,8 W Cerritos Ave #54,Bridgeport,Gloucester,NJ,08014,856-636-8749,856-264-4130,art@venere.org,http://www.chemeljameslcpa.com

2.3.3 Printing only matching lines with grep

Finally, we need a mechanism to only process lines that match a condition. The grep command is used for that, and it is such an important command in the Unix ecosystem, it is used as a verb. For example, "We grep out lines matching the string" is something you'll hear your instructors say throughout this class, and "grep" is loosely defined as "match."

For example, let's consider trying to just print the lines where the person is from the state of New Jersey. To do that, we need to first identify a unique part of lines for people from New Jersey, and that is "NJ" in the address field.

#> grep NJ sample-db.csv 
Art,Venere,Chemel, James L Cpa,8 W Cerritos Ave #54,Bridgeport,Gloucester,NJ,08014,856-636-8749,856-264-4130,art@venere.org,http://www.chemeljameslcpa.com
Alisha,Slusarski,Wtlz Power 107 Fm,3273 State St,Middlesex,Middlesex,NJ,08846,732-658-3154,732-635-3453,alisha@slusarski.com,http://www.wtlzpowerfm.com
Ernie,Stenseth,Knwz Newsradio,45 E Liberty St,Ridgefield Park,Bergen,NJ,07660,201-709-6245,201-387-9093,ernie_stenseth@aol.com,http://www.knwznewsradio.com

Note that in a grep command, the first part is the search term and the second part is the file to be searched. grep is a very powerful command that uses a special search language called regular expressions, and you can search for all sorts of things. This is not the focus of this course, but if you would like to learn more, speak with your instructor.

2.3.4 Lab Questions

  1. Read the man pages for head and tail, produce a command line to print the first kilobyte of the database file. Note, a kilobyte is 210 or 1024 bytes. Include the command line in your worksheet.
  2. Use less or grep to find the line number of "Mastella". Produce a sed command to just print the line with "Mastella" and the following 5 lines. Include the command line in your worksheet.
  3. How many people's first name is "Pamella"? Use grep to find that out.
  4. Read the man page for grep. Print out the all the lines from people who do not have an address in NJ. Include the command line in your worksheet.

2.4 Part 4: Pipelines with cut, sort, uniq, and wc

The final piece of the puzzle for file processing is to take the output of processing a file and set it as the input to another process. These process parts can be chained together into a pipeline. Consider this simple pipeline below:

#> cat sample-db.csv | head -20

The pipe or | takes the output of one command and sets it as the input of another. In the example above, the output of the cat is to print the whole contents of the file to the input of head, which then only prints the first 20 lines of its input. While this is a contrived example, you should start to see the power of the pipeline. Consider the below command:

#> grep NJ sample-db.csv | wc -l

The first part of the command will print out only the lines that contain the pattern "NJ", this output is then set as the input to the wc command, which is a command line tools to count words, lines, and bytes. The -l option says to just print the line count, and thus, the command above prints out the number of lines.

Nearly all Unix command line tools have an option to either read from a file or from standard input along a pipeline. For example, the above command can be rewritten with cat at the front, as follows:

#> cat sample-db.csv | grep NJ | wc -l

For more options of wc, refer to the man page.

2.4.1 Parsing just fields with cut

A very useful pipeline tool is cut, which is used to extract fields from a formatted file, like our database file. Here is a basic command line argument:

          ,--- Deliminator
        __|_           ,-----Input File, or leave off to read from stdin
       /    \          v
#> cut -d "," -f 1 sample-db.csv | head -5
                \__.-- Field

The deliminator determines how the file is to be cut. The sample-db.csv file is a comma separated file, so it is delimitated by commas; that is, every item in the line is separated by comma to distinguish it from other items on the line. The above command will print the first 5 lines of output from the first delimitated item:

#> cut -d "," -f 1 sample-db.csv | head -5

That is the first_name field. If we wished to not include the index, first_name, we could use a head and tail command combination:

#> cut -d "," -f 1 sample-db.csv | head -6 | tail -5

As you can see, this quickly builds into a very powerful tool just by adding commands to the pipeline.

2.4.2 Sorting and removing duplicates with sort and uniq

The last two parsing tools we'll use in this lab is sort and uniq, the former will sort input and the later will remove any adjacent duplicate lines. Consider how these might be used in conduction to solve different file parsing problems. We leave their definitions and usage for you to determine by reading the man pages.

2.4.3 Transposing text with tr

The last bit of command line trickery for you is the tr command, or translate character tool. It is really simple, and takes two arguments:

tr from to

It will, read from standard input and convert anytime it find from on a line to to. For example, if we wished to take a phone numbers we find:

#> cut -d, -f 9 sample-db.csv | head

And we wish to replace the hyphan with a space, we can do so easily like this:

#> cut -d, -f 9 sample-db.csv | tr "-" " " | head
907 385 4412
513 570 1893
773 573 6914
408 752 3500
605 414 2147
631 335 3414
310 498 5651
440 780 8425
602 277 4385

2.4.4 Lab Questions and Tasks

You should continue to work in part 4 to complete these lab questions:

  1. Create a pipeline to count the number of unique states represented in the database file. Include the pipeline in your worksheet.
  2. How many first names in the file repeat? How many last names? Include the pipelines used to determine this.
  3. Write a pipeline to first print to the terminal all the unique telephone area codes? This includes both sets of phone numbers. However, if you're unable to do that for both sets, provide a pipeline for at least one set. Once complete, add to your pipeline how to sort those numerical? (Hint: read the man page for sort).