sed(1p) — Linux manual page


SED(1P)                   POSIX Programmer's Manual                  SED(1P)

PROLOG         top

       This manual page is part of the POSIX Programmer's Manual.  The Linux
       implementation of this interface may differ (consult the
       corresponding Linux manual page for details of Linux behavior), or
       the interface may not be implemented on Linux.

NAME         top

       sed — stream editor

SYNOPSIS         top

       sed [−n] script [file...]

       sed [−n] −e script [−e script]... [−f script_file]... [file...]

       sed [−n] [−e script]... −f script_file [−f script_file]... [file...]

DESCRIPTION         top

       The sed utility is a stream editor that shall read one or more text
       files, make editing changes according to a script of editing
       commands, and write the results to standard output. The script shall
       be obtained from either the script operand string or a combination of
       the option-arguments from the −e script and −f script_file options.

OPTIONS         top

       The sed utility shall conform to the Base Definitions volume of
       POSIX.1‐2008, Section 12.2, Utility Syntax Guidelines, except that
       the order of presentation of the −e and −f options is significant.

       The following options shall be supported:

       −e script Add the editing commands specified by the script option-
                 argument to the end of the script of editing commands.

       −f script_file
                 Add the editing commands in the file script_file to the end
                 of the script of editing commands.

       −n        Suppress the default output (in which each line, after it
                 is examined for editing, is written to standard output).
                 Only lines explicitly selected for output are written.

       If any −e or −f options are specified, the script of editing commands
       shall initially be empty. The commands specified by each −e or −f
       option shall be added to the script in the order specified. When each
       addition is made, if the previous addition (if any) was from a −e
       option, a <newline> shall be inserted before the new addition. The
       resulting script shall have the same properties as the script
       operand, described in the OPERANDS section.

OPERANDS         top

       The following operands shall be supported:

       file      A pathname of a file whose contents are read and edited. If
                 multiple file operands are specified, the named files shall
                 be read in the order specified and the concatenation shall
                 be edited. If no file operands are specified, the standard
                 input shall be used.

       script    A string to be used as the script of editing commands. The
                 application shall not present a script that violates the
                 restrictions of a text file except that the final character
                 need not be a <newline>.

STDIN         top

       The standard input shall be used if no file operands are specified,
       and shall be used if a file operand is '−' and the implementation
       treats the '−' as meaning standard input.  Otherwise, the standard
       input shall not be used.  See the INPUT FILES section.

INPUT FILES         top

       The input files shall be text files. The script_files named by the −f
       option shall consist of editing commands.


       The following environment variables shall affect the execution of

       LANG      Provide a default value for the internationalization
                 variables that are unset or null. (See the Base Definitions
                 volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Section 8.2, Internationalization
                 Variables for the precedence of internationalization
                 variables used to determine the values of locale

       LC_ALL    If set to a non-empty string value, override the values of
                 all the other internationalization variables.

                 Determine the locale for the behavior of ranges,
                 equivalence classes, and multi-character collating elements
                 within regular expressions.

       LC_CTYPE  Determine the locale for the interpretation of sequences of
                 bytes of text data as characters (for example, single-byte
                 as opposed to multi-byte characters in arguments and input
                 files), and the behavior of character classes within
                 regular expressions.

                 Determine the locale that should be used to affect the
                 format and contents of diagnostic messages written to
                 standard error.

       NLSPATH   Determine the location of message catalogs for the
                 processing of LC_MESSAGES.



STDOUT         top

       The input files shall be written to standard output, with the editing
       commands specified in the script applied. If the −n option is
       specified, only those input lines selected by the script shall be
       written to standard output.

STDERR         top

       The standard error shall be used only for diagnostic messages.

OUTPUT FILES         top

       The output files shall be text files whose formats are dependent on
       the editing commands given.


       The script shall consist of editing commands of the following form:


       where function represents a single-character command verb from the
       list in Editing Commands in sed, followed by any applicable

       The command can be preceded by <blank> characters and/or <semicolon>
       characters. The function can be preceded by <blank> characters. These
       optional characters shall have no effect.

       In default operation, sed cyclically shall append a line of input,
       less its terminating <newline> character, into the pattern space.
       Reading from input shall be skipped if a <newline> was in the pattern
       space prior to a D command ending the previous cycle. The sed utility
       shall then apply in sequence all commands whose addresses select that
       pattern space, until a command starts the next cycle or quits. If no
       commands explicitly started a new cycle, then at the end of the
       script the pattern space shall be copied to standard output (except
       when −n is specified) and the pattern space shall be deleted.
       Whenever the pattern space is written to standard output or a named
       file, sed shall immediately follow it with a <newline>.

       Some of the editing commands use a hold space to save all or part of
       the pattern space for subsequent retrieval. The pattern and hold
       spaces shall each be able to hold at least 8192 bytes.

   Addresses in sed
       An address is either a decimal number that counts input lines
       cumulatively across files, a '$' character that addresses the last
       line of input, or a context address (which consists of a BRE, as
       described in Regular Expressions in sed, preceded and followed by a
       delimiter, usually a <slash>).

       An editing command with no addresses shall select every pattern

       An editing command with one address shall select each pattern space
       that matches the address.

       An editing command with two addresses shall select the inclusive
       range from the first pattern space that matches the first address
       through the next pattern space that matches the second. (If the
       second address is a number less than or equal to the line number
       first selected, only one line shall be selected.) Starting at the
       first line following the selected range, sed shall look again for the
       first address. Thereafter, the process shall be repeated. Omitting
       either or both of the address components in the following form
       produces undefined results:


   Regular Expressions in sed
       The sed utility shall support the BREs described in the Base
       Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Section 9.3, Basic Regular
       Expressions, with the following additions:

        *  In a context address, the construction "\cBREc", where c is any
           character other than <backslash> or <newline>, shall be identical
           to "/BRE/".  If the character designated by c appears following a
           <backslash>, then it shall be considered to be that literal
           character, which shall not terminate the BRE. For example, in the
           context address "\xabc\xdefx", the second x stands for itself, so
           that the BRE is "abcxdef".

        *  The escape sequence '\n' shall match a <newline> embedded in the
           pattern space. A literal <newline> shall not be used in the BRE
           of a context address or in the substitute function.

        *  If an RE is empty (that is, no pattern is specified) sed shall
           behave as if the last RE used in the last command applied (either
           as an address or as part of a substitute command) was specified.

   Editing Commands in sed
       In the following list of editing commands, the maximum number of
       permissible addresses for each function is indicated by [0addr],
       [1addr], or [2addr], representing zero, one, or two addresses.

       The argument text shall consist of one or more lines. Each embedded
       <newline> in the text shall be preceded by a <backslash>.  Other
       <backslash> characters in text shall be removed, and the following
       character shall be treated literally.

       The r and w command verbs, and the w flag to the s command, take an
       rfile (or wfile) parameter, separated from the command verb letter or
       flag by one or more <blank> characters; implementations may allow
       zero separation as an extension.

       The argument rfile or the argument wfile shall terminate the editing
       command. Each wfile shall be created before processing begins.
       Implementations shall support at least ten wfile arguments in the
       script; the actual number (greater than or equal to 10) that is
       supported by the implementation is unspecified. The use of the wfile
       parameter shall cause that file to be initially created, if it does
       not exist, or shall replace the contents of an existing file.

       The b, r, s, t, w, y, and : command verbs shall accept additional
       arguments. The following synopses indicate which arguments shall be
       separated from the command verbs by a single <space>.

       The a and r commands schedule text for later output. The text
       specified for the a command, and the contents of the file specified
       for the r command, shall be written to standard output just before
       the next attempt to fetch a line of input when executing the N or n
       commands, or when reaching the end of the script. If written when
       reaching the end of the script, and the −n option was not specified,
       the text shall be written after copying the pattern space to standard
       output. The contents of the file specified for the r command shall be
       as of the time the output is written, not the time the r command is
       applied. The text shall be output in the order in which the a and r
       commands were applied to the input.

       Command verbs other than {, a, b, c, i, r, t, w, :, and # can be
       followed by a <semicolon>, optional <blank> characters, and another
       command verb. However, when the s command verb is used with the w
       flag, following it with another command in this manner produces
       undefined results.

       A function can be preceded by one or more '!'  characters, in which
       case the function shall be applied if the addresses do not select the
       pattern space. Zero or more <blank> characters shall be accepted
       before the first '!'  character. It is unspecified whether <blank>
       characters can follow a '!'  character, and conforming applications
       shall not follow a '!'  character with <blank> characters.

       [2addr] {editing command

       editing command


       }         Execute a list of sed editing commands only when the
                 pattern space is selected. The list of sed editing commands
                 shall be surrounded by braces and separated by <newline>
                 characters, and conform to the following rules. The braces
                 can be preceded or followed by <blank> characters. The
                 editing commands can be preceded by <blank> characters, but
                 shall not be followed by <blank> characters. The <right-
                 brace> shall be preceded by a <newline> and can be preceded
                 or followed by <blank> characters.


       text      Write text to standard output as described previously.

       [2addr]b [label]
                 Branch to the : function bearing the label.  If label is
                 not specified, branch to the end of the script. The
                 implementation shall support labels recognized as unique up
                 to at least 8 characters; the actual length (greater than
                 or equal to 8) that shall be supported by the
                 implementation is unspecified. It is unspecified whether
                 exceeding a label length causes an error or a silent


       text      Delete the pattern space. With a 0 or 1 address or at the
                 end of a 2-address range, place text on the output and
                 start the next cycle.

       [2addr]d  Delete the pattern space and start the next cycle.

       [2addr]D  If the pattern space contains no <newline>, delete the
                 pattern space and start a normal new cycle as if the d
                 command was issued. Otherwise, delete the initial segment
                 of the pattern space through the first <newline>, and start
                 the next cycle with the resultant pattern space and without
                 reading any new input.

       [2addr]g  Replace the contents of the pattern space by the contents
                 of the hold space.

       [2addr]G  Append to the pattern space a <newline> followed by the
                 contents of the hold space.

       [2addr]h  Replace the contents of the hold space with the contents of
                 the pattern space.

       [2addr]H  Append to the hold space a <newline> followed by the
                 contents of the pattern space.


       text      Write text to standard output.

       [2addr]l  (The letter ell.) Write the pattern space to standard
                 output in a visually unambiguous form. The characters
                 listed in the Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008,
                 Table 5-1, Escape Sequences and Associated Actions ('\\',
                 '\a', '\b', '\f', '\r', '\t', '\v') shall be written as the
                 corresponding escape sequence; the '\n' in that table is
                 not applicable. Non-printable characters not in that table
                 shall be written as one three-digit octal number (with a
                 preceding <backslash>) for each byte in the character (most
                 significant byte first).

                 Long lines shall be folded, with the point of folding
                 indicated by writing a <backslash> followed by a <newline>;
                 the length at which folding occurs is unspecified, but
                 should be appropriate for the output device. The end of
                 each line shall be marked with a '$'.

       [2addr]n  Write the pattern space to standard output if the default
                 output has not been suppressed, and replace the pattern
                 space with the next line of input, less its terminating

                 If no next line of input is available, the n command verb
                 shall branch to the end of the script and quit without
                 starting a new cycle.

       [2addr]N  Append the next line of input, less its terminating
                 <newline>, to the pattern space, using an embedded
                 <newline> to separate the appended material from the
                 original material. Note that the current line number

                 If no next line of input is available, the N command verb
                 shall branch to the end of the script and quit without
                 starting a new cycle or copying the pattern space to
                 standard output.

       [2addr]p  Write the pattern space to standard output.

       [2addr]P  Write the pattern space, up to the first <newline>, to
                 standard output.

       [1addr]q  Branch to the end of the script and quit without starting a
                 new cycle.

       [1addr]r rfile
                 Copy the contents of rfile to standard output as described
                 previously. If rfile does not exist or cannot be read, it
                 shall be treated as if it were an empty file, causing no
                 error condition.

                 Substitute the replacement string for instances of the BRE
                 in the pattern space. Any character other than <backslash>
                 or <newline> can be used instead of a <slash> to delimit
                 the BRE and the replacement. Within the BRE and the
                 replacement, the BRE delimiter itself can be used as a
                 literal character if it is preceded by a <backslash>.

                 The replacement string shall be scanned from beginning to
                 end. An <ampersand> ('&') appearing in the replacement
                 shall be replaced by the string matching the BRE. The
                 special meaning of '&' in this context can be suppressed by
                 preceding it by a <backslash>.  The characters "\n", where
                 n is a digit, shall be replaced by the text matched by the
                 corresponding back-reference expression. If the
                 corresponding back-reference expression does not match,
                 then the characters "\n" shall be replaced by the empty
                 string. The special meaning of "\n" where n is a digit in
                 this context, can be suppressed by preceding it by a
                 <backslash>.  For each other <backslash> encountered, the
                 following character shall lose its special meaning (if
                 any). The meaning of a <backslash> immediately followed by
                 any character other than '&', <backslash>, a digit, or the
                 delimiter character used for this command, is unspecified.

                 A line can be split by substituting a <newline> into it.
                 The application shall escape the <newline> in the
                 replacement by preceding it by a <backslash>.  A
                 substitution shall be considered to have been performed
                 even if the replacement string is identical to the string
                 that it replaces. Any <backslash> used to alter the default
                 meaning of a subsequent character shall be discarded from
                 the BRE or the replacement before evaluating the BRE or
                 using the replacement.

                 The value of flags shall be zero or more of:

                 n         Substitute for the nth occurrence only of the BRE
                           found within the pattern space.

                 g         Globally substitute for all non-overlapping
                           instances of the BRE rather than just the first
                           one. If both g and n are specified, the results
                           are unspecified.

                 p         Write the pattern space to standard output if a
                           replacement was made.

                 w wfile   Write. Append the pattern space to wfile if a
                           replacement was made. A conforming application
                           shall precede the wfile argument with one or more
                           <blank> characters. If the w flag is not the last
                           flag value given in a concatenation of multiple
                           flag values, the results are undefined.

       [2addr]t [label]
                 Test. Branch to the : command verb bearing the label if any
                 substitutions have been made since the most recent reading
                 of an input line or execution of a t.  If label is not
                 specified, branch to the end of the script.

       [2addr]w wfile
                 Append (write) the pattern space to wfile.

       [2addr]x  Exchange the contents of the pattern and hold spaces.

                 Replace all occurrences of characters in string1 with the
                 corresponding characters in string2.  If a <backslash>
                 followed by an 'n' appear in string1 or string2, the two
                 characters shall be handled as a single <newline>.  If the
                 number of characters in string1 and string2 are not equal,
                 or if any of the characters in string1 appear more than
                 once, the results are undefined. Any character other than
                 <backslash> or <newline> can be used instead of <slash> to
                 delimit the strings. If the delimiter is not 'n', within
                 string1 and string2, the delimiter itself can be used as a
                 literal character if it is preceded by a <backslash>.  If a
                 <backslash> character is immediately followed by a
                 <backslash> character in string1 or string2, the two
                 <backslash> characters shall be counted as a single literal
                 <backslash> character. The meaning of a <backslash>
                 followed by any character that is not 'n', a <backslash>,
                 or the delimiter character is undefined.

                 Do nothing. This command bears a label to which the b and t
                 commands branch.

       [1addr]=  Write the following to standard output:

                     "%d\n", <current line number>

       [0addr]   Ignore this empty command.

       [0addr]#  Ignore the '#' and the remainder of the line (treat them as
                 a comment), with the single exception that if the first two
                 characters in the script are "#n", the default output shall
                 be suppressed; this shall be the equivalent of specifying
                 −n on the command line.

EXIT STATUS         top

       The following exit values shall be returned:

        0    Successful completion.

       >0    An error occurred.



       The following sections are informative.


       Regular expressions match entire strings, not just individual lines,
       but a <newline> is matched by '\n' in a sed RE; a <newline> is not
       allowed by the general definition of regular expression in
       POSIX.1‐2008. Also note that '\n' cannot be used to match a <newline>
       at the end of an arbitrary input line; <newline> characters appear in
       the pattern space as a result of the N editing command.

EXAMPLES         top

       This sed script simulates the BSD cat −s command, squeezing excess
       empty lines from standard input.

           sed −n '
           # Write non-empty lines.
           /./ {
           # Write a single empty line, then look for more empty lines.
           /^$/    p
           # Get next line, discard the held <newline> (empty line),
           # and look for more empty lines.
           /^$/    {
               b Empty
           # Write the non-empty line before going back to search
           # for the first in a set of empty lines.

       The following sed command is a much simpler method of squeezing empty
       lines, although it is not quite the same as cat −s since it removes
       any initial empty lines:

           sed −n '/./,/^$/p'

RATIONALE         top

       This volume of POSIX.1‐2008 requires implementations to support at
       least ten distinct wfiles, matching historical practice on many
       implementations. Implementations are encouraged to support more, but
       conforming applications should not exceed this limit.

       The exit status codes specified here are different from those in
       System V. System V returns 2 for garbled sed commands, but returns
       zero with its usage message or if the input file could not be opened.
       The standard developers considered this to be a bug.

       The manner in which the l command writes non-printable characters was
       changed to avoid the historical backspace-overstrike method, and
       other requirements to achieve unambiguous output were added. See the
       RATIONALE for ed(1p) for details of the format chosen, which is the
       same as that chosen for sed.

       This volume of POSIX.1‐2008 requires implementations to provide
       pattern and hold spaces of at least 8192 bytes, larger than the 4000
       bytes spaces used by some historical implementations, but less than
       the 20480 bytes limit used in an early proposal. Implementations are
       encouraged to allocate dynamically larger pattern and hold spaces as

       The requirements for acceptance of <blank> and <space> characters in
       command lines has been made more explicit than in early proposals to
       describe clearly the historical practice and to remove confusion
       about the phrase ``protect initial blanks [sic] and tabs from the
       stripping that is done on every script line'' that appears in much of
       the historical documentation of the sed utility description of text.
       (Not all implementations are known to have stripped <blank>
       characters from text lines, although they all have allowed leading
       <blank> characters preceding the address on a command line.)

       The treatment of '#' comments differs from the SVID which only allows
       a comment as the first line of the script, but matches BSD-derived
       implementations. The comment character is treated as a command, and
       it has the same properties in terms of being accepted with leading
       <blank> characters; the BSD implementation has historically supported

       Early proposals required that a script_file have at least one non-
       comment line. Some historical implementations have behaved in
       unexpected ways if this were not the case. The standard developers
       considered that this was incorrect behavior and that application
       developers should not have to avoid this feature. A correct
       implementation of this volume of POSIX.1‐2008 shall permit
       script_files that consist only of comment lines.

       Early proposals indicated that if −e and −f options were intermixed,
       all −e options were processed before any −f options. This has been
       changed to process them in the order presented because it matches
       historical practice and is more intuitive.

       The treatment of the p flag to the s command differs between System V
       and BSD-based systems when the default output is suppressed. In the
       two examples:

           echo a | sed    's/a/A/p'
           echo a | sed −n 's/a/A/p'

       this volume of POSIX.1‐2008, BSD, System V documentation, and the
       SVID indicate that the first example should write two lines with A,
       whereas the second should write one. Some System V systems write the
       A only once in both examples because the p flag is ignored if the −n
       option is not specified.

       This is a case of a diametrical difference between systems that could
       not be reconciled through the compromise of declaring the behavior to
       be unspecified. The SVID/BSD/System V documentation behavior was
       adopted for this volume of POSIX.1‐2008 because:

        *  No known documentation for any historic system describes the
           interaction between the p flag and the −n option.

        *  The selected behavior is more correct as there is no technical
           justification for any interaction between the p flag and the −n
           option. A relationship between −n and the p flag might imply that
           they are only used together, but this ignores valid scripts that
           interrupt the cyclical nature of the processing through the use
           of the D, d, q, or branching commands. Such scripts rely on the p
           suffix to write the pattern space because they do not make use of
           the default output at the ``bottom'' of the script.

        *  Because the −n option makes the p flag unnecessary, any
           interaction would only be useful if sed scripts were written to
           run both with and without the −n option. This is believed to be
           unlikely. It is even more unlikely that programmers have coded
           the p flag expecting it to be unnecessary. Because the
           interaction was not documented, the likelihood of a programmer
           discovering the interaction and depending on it is further

        *  Finally, scripts that break under the specified behavior produce
           too much output instead of too little, which is easier to
           diagnose and correct.

       The form of the substitute command that uses the n suffix was limited
       to the first 512 matches in an early proposal. This limit has been
       removed because there is no reason an editor processing lines of
       {LINE_MAX} length should have this restriction. The command
       s/a/A/2047 should be able to substitute the 2047th occurrence of a on
       a line.

       The b, t, and : commands are documented to ignore leading white
       space, but no mention is made of trailing white space. Historical
       implementations of sed assigned different locations to the labels 'x'
       and "x ".  This is not useful, and leads to subtle programming
       errors, but it is historical practice, and changing it could
       theoretically break working scripts. Implementors are encouraged to
       provide warning messages about labels that are never used or jumps to
       labels that do not exist.

       Historically, the sed !  and } editing commands did not permit
       multiple commands on a single line using a <semicolon> as a command
       delimiter. Implementations are permitted, but not required, to
       support this extension.

       Earlier versions of this standard allowed for implementations with
       bytes other than eight bits, but this has been modified in this



SEE ALSO         top

       awk(1p), ed(1p), grep(1p)

       The Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Table 5-1, Escape
       Sequences and Associated Actions, Chapter 8, Environment Variables,
       Section 9.3, Basic Regular Expressions, Section 12.2, Utility Syntax

COPYRIGHT         top

       Portions of this text are reprinted and reproduced in electronic form
       from IEEE Std 1003.1, 2013 Edition, Standard for Information
       Technology -- Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX), The Open
       Group Base Specifications Issue 7, Copyright (C) 2013 by the
       Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc and The Open
       Group.  (This is POSIX.1-2008 with the 2013 Technical Corrigendum 1
       applied.) In the event of any discrepancy between this version and
       the original IEEE and The Open Group Standard, the original IEEE and
       The Open Group Standard is the referee document. The original
       Standard can be obtained online at .

       Any typographical or formatting errors that appear in this page are
       most likely to have been introduced during the conversion of the
       source files to man page format. To report such errors, see .

IEEE/The Open Group                 2013                             SED(1P)

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