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Linux in a Nutshell

This directory of Linux commands is from Linux in a Nutshell, 5th Edition.

Click on any of the 687 commands below to get a description and list of available options. All links in the command summaries point to the online version of the book on Safari Bookshelf.

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csplit [options] file arguments

Separate file into context-based sections and place sections in files named xx00 through xxn (n < 100), breaking file at each pattern specified in arguments. See also split.



Read from standard input.

-b suffix, --suffix-format=suffix

Append suffix to output filename. This option causes -n to be ignored. suffix must specify how to convert the binary integer to readable form by including one of the following: %d, %i, %u, %o, %x, or %X. The value of suffix determines the format for numbers as follows:


Signed decimal.


Same as %d.


Unsigned decimal.






Same as %x.

-f prefix, --prefix=prefix

Name new files prefix00 through prefixn (default is xx00 through xxn).

-k, --keep-files

Keep newly created files even when an error occurs (which would normally remove these files). This is useful when you need to specify an arbitrarily large repeat argument, {n}, and you don't want an out-of-range error to cause removal of the new files.

-n num, --digits=num

Use output filenames with numbers num digits long. The default is 2.

-s, -q, --silent, --quiet

Suppress all character counts.

-z, --elide-empty-files

Do not create empty output files. However, number as if those files had been created.


Any one or a combination of the following expressions may be specified as arguments. Arguments containing blanks or other special characters should be surrounded by single quotes.


Create file from the current line up to the line containing the regular expression expr. offset should be of the form +n or -n, where n is the number of lines below or above expr.


Same as /expr/, except no file is created for lines previous to line containing expr.


Create file from current line up to (but not including) line number num. When followed by a repeat count (number inside { }), put the next num lines of input into another output file.


Repeat argument n times. May follow any of the preceding arguments. Files will split at instances of expr or in blocks of num lines. If * is given instead of n, repeat argument until input is exhausted.


Create up to 20 chapter files from the file novel:

csplit -k -f chap. novel '/CHAPTER/' '{20}'

Create up to 100 address files (xx00 through xx99), each four lines long, from a database named address_list:

csplit -k address_list 4 {99}

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