FreeKB - Organize a file using the SORT command in Linux
Organize a file using the SORT command in Linux

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Forward sort

The sort command without any options sorts the contents of a file. The file is sorted numerically from 0 to 9 and then alphabetically from a to z.

~]# sort example.txt
1 How are you today?
Hello world
It is a good day today


Reverse sort

The -r or --reverse option sorts the file in reverse order. The file is sorted alphabetically from z to a and then numerically from 9 to 0.

~]# sort -r example.txt
It is a good day today
Hello world
1 How are you today?


Numeric sort

The -n or --numeric-sort option can be used to sort a file numerically.

~]# sort -n example.txt


Take for example the following numeric sort.

~]# sort -n example.txt
0 Barack
50 George
60 Ronald
100 Bill


The sort check command will state that the file is not sorted. Likewise, the join command will state "file1 not sorted".

~]# sort -c example.txt
sort: example.txt:4: disorder: 100 Bill


Adding the -n option will not produce any stdour or stderr, meaning the file is numerically sorted. However, this may not be desired, as the join command may fail to join a numerically sorted file.

~]# sort -c -n example.txt


The sort command with no options will sort the file as follows.

~]# sort example.txt
0 Barack
100 Bill
50 George
60 Ronald


And now the sort check command will not produce any stdout or stderr, meaning the file is sorted. The join command will be able to join the file.

~]# sort -c example.txt


Sort the current file

The -o option can be used to sort and then overwrite the current file, so that you do not need to create a second, sorted file.

~]# sort /path/to/example.txt -o /path/to/example.txt


Determine if a file is sorted

The -c or --check option will determine if the file is sorted. If the file is not sorted, "disorder" will be displayed. If the file is sorted, there will be no output.

//Sorted example
~]# sort -c example.txt

//Not Sorted example
~]# sort -c example.txt
sort: example.txt:2: disorder



The -M or --month-sort option will sort the file by Month.

~]# cat -M example.txt


Sort a specific field

The -k option can be used to sort by another field. For example, -k 2 sorts by the second field, which is last name in this example.

~]# cat example.txt | sort -k 2
Cleveland Brown
Brian Griffin
Peter Griffin
Stewey Griffin
Glenn Quagmire


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