Sed-Fu (Err...)

Anderson Lizardo andersonlizardo at
Mon Dec 1 18:28:05 PST 2003

Jason Kircher wrote:
> Or at least I'm trying to make some real use of sed...

First of all, I strongly suggest you read some doc about "Regular 
Expressions". It may solve many problems you may enconter while trying 
to use regex-ready tools like grep and sed.

> I now have a file which is the result of a multifile grep extracting
> lines out another set of files.  grep prepends each line with the
> path of the file processed, followed by ':'.  What I'm trying to do
> is to strip the path out of the resulting file.  Sounds easy enough
> with sed, right?  Guess again.

Initially, you should have used grep's -h option. From its man page:

-h, --no-filename
              Suppress the prefixing of filenames on output when 
multiple files are searched.

> I tried little experiments like:
> sed 's/:/ /' sitelog
> Nice, it replaced the first colon with a space.

Obvious enough :P

> So you'd figure something like:
> sed 's/.*:/ /' sitelog
> would replace up to the first colon with a single space?  Nope...  it

Perl's perlrequick manpage says that the

"(...) quantifier '.*' grabs as much of the string as possible while 
still having the regex match."

It means that the regex above do what you say it did: it matches the 
_longest_ string that contains a ":" on its end.

> matches to the LAST colon in the line, including IP addy, date, much
> of the time, and if the browser version line has a colon in it,
> strips up to that point, so you get something like:
> 1.5a) Gecko/20030829 Mozilla Firebird/0.6.1"
> in the output.

> Reading a little more, and I tried:
> sed 's/.*\(:\)\1//' sitelog
> That hung sed.  (^C gets out, thankfully.)

What is that?!? :)

> In short, I want to strip from each line up to and including the
> first colon, and leave the rest alone.  I'm trying using the docs, I
> really am, but I'm stuck on this one.  What am I doing wrong?

with sed:

sed 's/^[^:]\+://' sitelog

Anderson Lizardo

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