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SORT(1) NetBSD General Commands Manual SORT(1)
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sort -- sort or merge text files
sort [-bcdfHimnrSsu] [-k field1[,field2]] [-o output] [-R char] [-T dir]
[-t char] [file ...]
The sort utility sorts text files by lines. Comparisons are based on one
or more sort keys extracted from each line of input, and are performed
lexicographically. By default, if keys are not given, sort regards each
input line as a single field.
The following options are available:
-c Check that the single input file is sorted. If the file is
not sorted, sort produces the appropriate error messages and
exits with code 1; otherwise, sort returns 0. sort -c pro-
duces no output.
-m Merge only; the input files are assumed to be pre-sorted.
-o output The argument given is the name of an output file to be used
instead of the standard output. This file can be the same as
one of the input files.
-T dir Use dir as the directory for temporary files. The default is
the value specified in the environment variable TMPDIR or
/tmp if TMPDIR is not defined.
-u Unique: suppress all but one in each set of lines having
equal keys. If used with the -c option, check that there are
no lines with duplicate keys.
The following options override the default ordering rules. When ordering
options appear independent of key field specifications, the requested
field ordering rules are applied globally to all sort keys. When
attached to a specific key (see -k), the ordering options override all
global ordering options for that key.
-d Only blank space and alphanumeric characters are used in mak-
-f Considers all lowercase characters that have uppercase equiv-
alents to be the same for purposes of comparison.
-i Ignore all non-printable characters.
-n An initial numeric string, consisting of optional blank
space, optional minus sign, and zero or more digits (includ-
ing decimal point) is sorted by arithmetic value. (The -n
option no longer implies the -b option.)
-r Reverse the sense of comparisons.
-S Don't use stable sort. Default is to use stable sort.
-s Use stable sort. This is the default. Provided for compati-
bility with other sort implementations only.
-H Use a merge sort instead of a radix sort. This option should
be used for files larger than 60Mb.
The treatment of field separators can be altered using these options:
-b Ignores leading blank space when determining the start and
end of a restricted sort key. A -b option specified before
the first -k option applies globally to all -k options. Oth-
erwise, the -b option can be attached independently to each
field argument of the -k option (see below). Note that the
-b option has no effect unless key fields are specified.
-t char char is used as the field separator character. The initial
char is not considered to be part of a field when determining
key offsets (see below). Each occurrence of char is signifi-
cant (for example, ``charchar'' delimits an empty field). If
-t is not specified, the default field separator is a
sequence of blank-space characters, and consecutive blank
spaces do not delimit an empty field; further, the initial
blank space is considered part of a field when determining
-R char char is used as the record separator character. This should
be used with discretion; -R <alphanumeric> usually produces
undesirable results. The default record separator is new-
Designates the starting position, field1, and optional ending
position, field2, of a key field. The -k option replaces the
obsolescent options +pos1 and -pos2.
The following operands are available:
file The pathname of a file to be sorted, merged, or checked.
If no file operands are specified, or if a file operand is
-, the standard input is used.
A field is defined as a minimal sequence of characters followed by a
field separator or a newline character. By default, the first blank
space of a sequence of blank spaces acts as the field separator. All
blank spaces in a sequence of blank spaces are considered as part of the
next field; for example, all blank spaces at the beginning of a line are
considered to be part of the first field.
Fields are specified by the -k field1[,field2] argument. A missing
field2 argument defaults to the end of a line.
The arguments field1 and field2 have the form m.n and can be followed by
one or more of the letters b, d, f, i, n, and r, which correspond to the
options discussed above. A field1 position specified by m.n (m, n > 0)
is interpreted as the nth character in the mth field. A missing .n in
field1 means `.1', indicating the first character of the mth field; if
the -b option is in effect, n is counted from the first non-blank charac-
ter in the mth field; m.1b refers to the first non-blank character in the
A field2 position specified by m.n is interpreted as the nth character
(including separators) of the mth field. A missing .n indicates the last
character of the mth field; m = 0 designates the end of a line. Thus the
option -k v.x,w.y is synonymous with the obsolescent option
+v-1.x-1-w-1.y; when y is omitted, -k v.x,w is synonymous with
+v-1.x-1-w+1.0. The obsolescent +pos1 -pos2 option is still supported,
except for -w.0b, which has no -k equivalent.
Sort exits with one of the following values:
0 Normal behavior.
1 On disorder (or non-uniqueness) with the -c option
2 An error occurred.
If the following environment variable exists, it is used by sort.
TMPDIR sort uses the contents of the TMPDIR environment vari-
able as the path in which to store temporary files.
/tmp/sort.* Default temporary files.
outputNUMBER Temporary file which is used for output if output
already exists. Once sorting is finished, this file
replaces output (via link(2) and unlink(2)).
comm(1), join(1), uniq(1), qsort(3), radixsort(3)
A sort command appeared in Version 5 AT&T UNIX. This sort implementation
appeared in 4.4BSD and is used since NetBSD 1.6.
To sort files larger than 60Mb, use sort -H; files larger than 704Mb must
be sorted in smaller pieces, then merged.
This sort has no limits on input line length (other than imposed by
available memory) or any restrictions on bytes allowed within lines.
To protect data sort -o calls link(2) and unlink(2), and thus fails on
Input files should be text files. If file doesn't end with record sepa-
rator (which is typically newline), the sort utility silently supplies
The current sort uses lexicographic radix sorting, which requires that
sort keys be kept in memory (as opposed to previous versions which used
quick and merge sorts and did not.) Thus performance depends highly on
efficient choice of sort keys, and the -b option and the field2 argument
of the -k option should be used whenever possible. Similarly, sort -k1f
is equivalent to sort -f and may take twice as long.
NetBSD 5.0 January 13, 2001 NetBSD 5.0