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What are the Linux AWK Command Patterns?
What are the Linux AWK Command Patterns?
Rapyd Team avatar
Written by Rapyd Team
Updated over a week ago

The awk command in Linux is a powerful text-processing tool that lets you filter, transform, and report data within text files. The command's effectiveness lies in its ability to use patterns to match specific lines in a file and then execute actions on those lines. This guide will walk you through the fundamentals of awk patterns and how to use them to process text data.

Introduction to AWK and Its Pattern-Action Model

awk operates based on a pattern-action pair model. It works as follows:

pattern { action }

Whenever a line in the input file matches the given pattern, awk will execute the defined action on that line.

Commonly Used AWK Patterns

Regular Expressions:

Enclose regular expressions with slashes /. To print lines containing "Linux", use:

awk '/Linux/ { print $0 }' filename.txt

Relational Expressions:

Use relational operators like <, <=, >, >=, ==, != for comparisons. For instance, to print lines where the first field is greater than 100:

awk '$1 > 100 { print $0 }' filename.txt

BEGIN and END Patterns:

The BEGIN pattern action is executed before any lines are read, while the END pattern action is executed after all lines have been read. To sum values in the first field and print the total, use:

Using Multiple Patterns with AWK

awk allows the use of multiple patterns. If any pattern matches, the associated action gets executed. For example:

awk '/pattern1/ || /pattern2/ { print $0 }' filename.txt

Combining Patterns: AND & OR Operations

AND (&&): To match lines that meet both criteria:

awk '$1 > 10 && $2 ~ /Linux/ { print $0 }' filename.txt

OR (||): To match lines that meet at least one criterion:

awk '$1 > 10 || $2 ~ /Linux/ { print $0 }' filename.txt

Using AWK's Built-in Variables in Patterns

NR: To print the tenth line of a file:

awk 'NR==10 { print $0 }' filename.txt

NF: To print lines with more than three fields:

awk 'NF > 3 { print $0 }' filename.txt


AWK is a robust text-processing utility in the Linux ecosystem. With its pattern-action model, AWK allows for intricate commands that can filter and transform text data effectively. By understanding the different patterns available in AWK, you can unleash its full power and simplify numerous text-processing tasks.

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