bannae bu_USA (1)

    Text Processing with the AWK Command in Linux

    Linux, recognized for its robust command-line utilities, provides a wealth of tools for many activities. Among them, the AWK command is a unique and powerful tool for text processing and data manipulation. If you’re looking to harness the full potential of AWK, this article is your comprehensive guide. We’ll explore the essentials of using the AWK command in Linux, from the basics to more advanced techniques.

    The AWK command in Linux – An Overview

    On most Unix-like operating systems, AWK command in Linux is a robust text-processing tool and scripting language. Alfred Aho, Peter Weinberger, and Brian Kernighan (thus the name “AWK”) created it in the late 1970s. It has developed into a flexible tool that can handle various text and data processing jobs throughout time.

    AWK functions mainly on a per-line basis. Line by line, it reads the input, applies user-defined patterns and actions to the lines, and then outputs the results. As a result, it is beneficial for data extraction, transformation, and reporting.

    What is the Purpose of AWK?

    AWK is used to modify and filter output from other functions and programs. AWK command operates on code containing rules made up of patterns and actions. The text that fits the pattern is subjected to AWK’s action. Curly braces ({}) contain patterns in code. A rule is made up of a pattern and an action. Single quotes (‘) encapsulate the full AWK program.

    A. Basic AWK Syntax

    To use AWK, you need to understand its basic syntax:

    • Pattern specifies a condition or regular expression to match lines in the input.
    • Action defines the operation to be executed when the specified pattern is met.
    • File is the input file, or data stream you want to process.

    Here are some common actions you can perform with AWK:

    • {print}: Prints the entire line.
    • {print $1}: Prints the line’s first field (column).
    • {print $NF}: Prints the line’s last field (column).

    B. Practical AWK Use Cases

    • Text Extraction

    A common use case for AWK is extracting specific information from text files. Suppose you have a log file and want to extract lines containing the word “error.” You can achieve this with a simple AWK command:

    In this command, /error/ is the pattern, and AWK prints all lines in logfile.txt that contain the word “error.

    • Field Separation

    AWK truly shines when dealing with structured data, where fields are separated by a delimiter, like commas in CSV files or spaces in log files. Special identifiers are used for a few fields. Here is a representation of the entire line of text and its last field:

    • $0: Represents a line of text in its entirety.
    • $1: Exemplifies the first field.
    • $2: Embodies the secondary field.
    • $7: Identifies the seventh field.
    • $45: Represents the field number 45.
    • $NF: Represents the final field and stands for “number of fields.”.

    C. Conditional Statements and Calculations

    AWK allows you to perform conditional operations and calculations on data. Suppose you want to sum the values in the third column of a CSV file and display the result:

    Accumulate the sum of the third column using {sum += $3}, and the END block executes after processing all lines, printing the total.

    D. The BEGIN and END Rules

    Before any text processing begins, a BEGIN rule is first run. In actuality, it runs even before AWK reads any text.Upon completion of all processing, an END rule is executed. You can include multiple BEGIN and END rules, and one can executed them sequentially. Be aware that the BEGIN rule contains a unique collection of actions encased within a unique pair of curly braces ({}).

    Is There Any Use of AWK’s Built-In Functions?

    AWK provides various built-in functions that you can use to perform common text and data manipulation tasks. You can employ these functions within the action block to process and transform data.

    Advanced AWK Features

    While we’ve covered the basics, AWK offers advanced features that enhance its capabilities:

    • Regular Expressions: You can use regular expressions for complex pattern matching.
    • User-Defined Functions: Define your functions for custom data processing.
    • Multiple Input Files: AWK can process multiple input files in a single command.
    • Output Redirection: Redirect AWK’s output to a new file or another command.


    One can perfectly use AWK command in Linux for text processing and data manipulation. It empowers you to extract, transform, and analyse data remarkably quickly. Whether you’re a system administrator, programmer, or data analyst, AWK is a valuable addition to your toolkit. Mastering AWK will better equip you to efficiently handle a wide range of text processing tasks, saving time and effort in your Linux journey.

    Also Read:Discovering the Steps for How to Recall Mail in Outlook

    Share this post at
    - Advertisement -spot_img
    Josie Patra
    Josie Patra is a veteran writer with 21 years of experience. She comes with multiple degrees in literature, computer applications, multimedia design, and management. She delves into a plethora of niches and offers expert guidance on finances, stock market, budgeting, marketing strategies, and such other domains. Josie has also authored books on management, productivity, and digital marketing strategies.

    Latest news


    Related news