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The GNU Awk User's Guide

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Several kinds of tasks occur repeatedly when working with text files. You might want to extract certain lines and discard the rest. Or you may need to make changes wherever certain patterns appear, but leave the rest of the file alone. Writing single-use programs for these tasks in languages such as C, C++, or Pascal is time-consuming and inconvenient. Such jobs are often easier with awk. The awk utility interprets a special-purpose programming language that makes it easy to handle simple data-reformatting jobs.

The GNU implementation of awk is called gawk; it is fully compatible with the System V Release 4 version of awk. gawk is also compatible with the POSIX specification of the awk language. This means that all properly written awk programs should work with gawk. Thus, we usually don't distinguish between gawk and other awk implementations.

Using awk allows you to:

In addition, gawk provides facilities that make it easy to:

This Web page teaches you about the awk language and how you can use it effectively. You should already be familiar with basic system commands, such as cat and ls,(1) as well as basic shell facilities, such as input/output (I/O) redirection and pipes.

Implementations of the awk language are available for many different computing environments. This Web page, while describing the awk language in general, also describes the particular implementation of awk called gawk (which stands for "GNU awk"). gawk runs on a broad range of Unix systems, ranging from 80386 PC-based computers up through large-scale systems, such as Crays. gawk has also been ported to Mac OS X, MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows (all versions) and OS/2 PCs, Atari and Amiga microcomputers, BeOS, Tandem D20, and VMS.

History of awk and gawk  The history of gawk and
1.0 A Rose by Any Other Name  What name to use to find awk.
1.1 Using This Book  Using this Web page. Includes sample input files that you can use.
1.2 Typographical Conventions  
The GNU Project and This Book  Brief history of the GNU project and this Web page.
How to Contribute  Helping to save the world.

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  Copyright 2003   by The Free Software Foundation     Updated Jun 2003