How to search text strings only in hidden files dot (.) files within a directory on Linux and FreeBSD

how-to-search-hidden-files-linux-freebsd-logo_grep
If there is necessity to look for a string in all hidden files with all sub-level subdirectories (be aware this will be time consuming and CPU stressing) use:
 

hipo@noah:~$ grep -rli 'PATH' .*

./.gftp/gftprc
./.gftp/cache/cache.OOqZVP
….

Sometimes its necessery to only grep for variables within the first-level directories (lets say you would like to grep a 'PATH' variable set, string within the $HOME directory, the command is:

hipo@noah:~$ grep PATH .[!.]*

.profile:PATH=/bin:/usr/bin/:${PATH}
.profile:export PATH
.profile:# set PATH so it includes user's private bin if it exists
.profile: PATH="$HOME/bin:$PATH"
.profile.language-env-bak:# set PATH so it includes user's private bin if it exists
.profile.language-env-bak: PATH="$HOME/bin:$PATH"
.viminfo:?/PATH.xcyrillic: XNLSPATH=/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/nls
.xcyrillic: export XNLSPATH

The regular expression .[!.]*, means exclude any file or directory name starting with '..', e.g. match only .* files

Note that to use the grep PATH .[!.]* on FreeBSD you will have to use this regular expression in bash shell, the default BSD csh or tsch shells will not recognize the regular expression, e.g.:

grep PATH '.[!.]*'
grep: .[!.]*: No such file or directory

Hence on BSD, if you need to look up for a string within the home directory, hidden files: .profile .bashrc .bash_profile .cshrc run it under bash shell:

freebsd# /usr/local/bin/bash
[root@freebsd:/home/hipo]# grep PATH .[!.]*

.bash_profile:# set PATH so it includes user's private bin if it exists
.bash_profile:# PATH=~/bin:"${PATH}"
.bash_profile:# do the same with …

Another easier to remember, alternative grep cmd is:

hipo@noah:~$ grep PATH .*
.profile:PATH=/bin:/usr/bin/:${PATH}
.profile:export PATH
.profile:# set PATH so it includes user's private bin if it exists
.profile: PATH="$HOME/bin:$PATH"
….

Note that grep 'string' .* is a bit different in meaning, as it will not prevent grep to match filenames with names ..filename1, ..filename2 etc.
Though grep 'string' .* will work note that it will sometimes output some unwanted matches if filenames with double dot in the beginning of file name are there …
That's all folks 🙂

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2 Responses to “How to search text strings only in hidden files dot (.) files within a directory on Linux and FreeBSD”

  1. Keith Daniels says:
    Opera 11.51 Opera 11.51 GNU/Linux x64 GNU/Linux x64
    Opera/9.80 (X11; Linux x86_64; U; en) Presto/2.9.168 Version/11.51

    Grep'ing the locate or mlocate database is a lot faster.
    You can also "pipe" the output to a second grep command and reduce the hits you don't want dramatically.
    Remember to use updatedb it the search is for something added the same day you are searching for it.
    Keith
     

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