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Unix Commands  «Prev 

Regular Expression Wildcards

Regular expressions are patterns used in UNIX commands to match the contents of a file. Regular expression wildcards, also called metacharacters, are used to define the search parameters.
They include the following:
  1. ^ Beginning of Line (Must be first character in your pattern)
  2. $ End of Line (Must be the last character in your pattern )
  3. . Any one character
  4. [aprw] Matches one character from the listed set. This notation is called a character class.
  5. [a-c4-8] The listed set may include ranges of characters. Ranges are indicated using a dash between two characters. This set includes all the characters from a to c, plus the digits from 4 to 8.
  6. [^a-r] You can reverse the meaning of the set by inserting a caret as the first character. This matches any one character except a through r.

Matching Any Character

You could also match those pesky hyphens with a dot (.):

The dot or period essentially acts as a wildcard and will match any character (except, in certain situations, a line ending). In the example above, the regular expression matches the hyphen, but it could also match a percent sign (%):

Or a vertical bar (|):

Or any other character.
the dot character (officially, the full stop) will not normally match a new line character, such as a line feed (U+000A). However, there are ways to make it possible to match a newline with a dot, which I will show you later. This is often called the dotall option.