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XARGS(1) NetBSD General Commands Manual XARGS(1)
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xargs -- construct argument list(s) and execute utility
xargs [-0oprt] [-E eofstr] [-I replstr [-R replacements] [-S replsize]]
[-J replstr] [-L number] [-n number [-x]] [-P maxprocs] [-s size]
[utility [argument ...]]
The xargs utility reads space, tab, newline and end-of-file delimited
strings from the standard input and executes utility with the strings as
Any arguments specified on the command line are given to utility upon
each invocation, followed by some number of the arguments read from the
standard input of xargs. This is repeated until standard input is
Spaces, tabs and newlines may be embedded in arguments using single
(`` ' '') or double (``"'') quotes or backslashes (``\''). Single quotes
escape all non-single quote characters, excluding newlines, up to the
matching single quote. Double quotes escape all non-double quote charac-
ters, excluding newlines, up to the matching double quote. Any single
character, including newlines, may be escaped by a backslash.
The options are as follows:
-0 Change xargs to expect NUL (``\0'') characters as separators,
instead of spaces and newlines. This is expected to be used in
concert with the -print0 function in find(1).
Use eofstr as a logical EOF marker.
Execute utility for each input line, replacing one or more occur-
rences of replstr in up to replacements (or 5 if no -R flag is
specified) arguments to utility with the entire line of input.
The resulting arguments, after replacement is done, will not be
allowed to grow beyond replsize (or 255 if no -S flag is speci-
fied) bytes; this is implemented by concatenating as much of the
argument containing replstr as possible, to the constructed argu-
ments to utility, up to replsize bytes. The size limit does not
apply to arguments to utility which do not contain replstr, and
furthermore, no replacement will be done on utility itself.
If this option is specified, xargs will use the data read from
standard input to replace the first occurrence of replstr instead
of appending that data after all other arguments. This option
will not affect how many arguments will be read from input (-n),
or the size of the command(s) xargs will generate (-s). The
option just moves where those arguments will be placed in the
command(s) that are executed. The replstr must show up as a dis-
tinct argument to xargs. It will not be recognized if, for
instance, it is in the middle of a quoted string. Furthermore,
only the first occurrence of the replstr will be replaced. For
example, the following command will copy the list of files and
directories which start with an uppercase letter in the current
directory to destdir:
/bin/ls -1d [A-Z]* | xargs -J % cp -rp % destdir
Call utility for every number lines read. If EOF is reached and
fewer lines have been read than number then utility will be
called with the available lines.
Set the maximum number of arguments taken from standard input for
each invocation of utility. An invocation of utility will use
less than number standard input arguments if the number of bytes
accumulated (see the -s option) exceeds the specified size or
there are fewer than number arguments remaining for the last
invocation of utility. The current default value for number is
-o Reopen stdin as /dev/tty in the child process before executing
the command. This is useful if you want xargs to run an interac-
Parallel mode: run at most maxprocs invocations of utility at
-p Echo each command to be executed and ask the user whether it
should be executed. An affirmative response, `y' in the POSIX
locale, causes the command to be executed, any other response
causes it to be skipped. No commands are executed if the process
is not attached to a terminal.
-r Compatibility with GNU xargs. The GNU version of xargs runs the
utility argument at least once, even if xargs input is empty, and
it supports a -r option to inhibit this behavior. The NetBSD
version of xargs does not run the utility argument on empty
input, but it supports the -r option for command-line compatibil-
ity with GNU xargs; but the -r option does nothing in the NetBSD
version of xargs.
Specify the maximum number of arguments that -I will do replace-
ment in. If replacements is negative, the number of arguments in
which to replace is unbounded.
Specify the amount of space (in bytes) that -I can use for
replacements. The default for replsize is 255.
Set the maximum number of bytes for the command line length pro-
vided to utility. The sum of the length of the utility name, the
arguments passed to utility (including NULL terminators) and the
current environment will be less than or equal to this number.
The current default value for size is ARG_MAX - 4096.
-t Echo the command to be executed to standard error immediately
before it is executed.
-x Force xargs to terminate immediately if a command line containing
number arguments will not fit in the specified (or default) com-
mand line length.
If utility is omitted, echo(1) is used.
Undefined behavior may occur if utility reads from the standard input.
The xargs utility exits immediately (without processing any further
input) if a command line cannot be assembled, utility cannot be invoked,
an invocation of utility is terminated by a signal, or an invocation of
utility exits with a value of 255.
/dev/tty used to read responses in prompt mode
xargs exits with one of the following values:
0 All invocations of utility returned a zero exit status.
123 One or more invocations of utility returned a nonzero exit sta-
124 The utility exited with a 255 exit status.
125 The utility was killed or stopped by a signal.
126 The utility was found but could not be invoked.
127 The utility could not be found.
1 Some other error occurred.
echo(1), find(1), execvp(3)
The xargs utility is expected to be IEEE Std 1003.2 (``POSIX.2'') compli-
ant. The -J, -o, -P, -R, and -S options are non-standard FreeBSD exten-
sions which may not be available on other operating systems.
The xargs utility appeared in PWB UNIX 1.0. It made its first BSD
appearance in the 4.3 Reno release.
The meaning of 123, 124, and 125 exit values and the -0 option were taken
from GNU xargs.
If utility attempts to invoke another command such that the number of
arguments or the size of the environment is increased, it risks execvp(3)
failing with E2BIG.
The xargs utility does not take multibyte characters into account when
performing string comparisons for the -I and -J options, which may lead
to incorrect results in some locales.
NetBSD 9.1 December 21, 2010 NetBSD 9.1