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Linux in a Nutshell, Fourth Edition by Aaron Weber, Stephen Figgins, Ellen Siever

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Metacharacters, Listed by Linux Program

Some metacharacters are valid for one program but not for another. Those available to a given program are marked by a checkmark () in the following table. Notes are provided after the table, and full descriptions of metacharacters are in the following section.

Symbol

ed

vi

sed

gawk

grep

egrep

Action

.

Match any character (can match newline in gawk).

*

Match zero or more preceding elements.

^

Match beginning of line or string.

$

Match end of line or string.

\

Escape following character.

[ ]

Match one from a list or range.

\( \)

Store pattern for later replay.

\ n

Reuse matched text stored in nth \( \).

{ }

Match a range of instances.

\{ \}

Match a range of instances.

\<

Match word’s beginning.

\>

Match word’s end.

+

Match one or more preceding elements.

?

Match zero or one preceding elements.

|

Separate choices to match.

( )

Group expressions to match.

On some Linux systems, grep is a link to egrep, so whenever you run grep you actually get egrep behavior.

In ed, vi, and sed, when you perform a search-and-replace (substitute) operation, ...

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