Chasing Tail With Dr. Drang

Dr. Drang:

I’ve been using the tail command for about 25 years, so you might think I’d know something about it. But last week, as I was putting together a short shell script (not this one), I opened the man page for tail and learned something new. Two things, actually, which surprised me, as tail doesn’t really do that much.

The -r switch, to reverse lines, is good to know about but easy to forget — it’s not intuitive to think of a utility for viewing the end of a file as also being a convenient tool for reversing lines. And, as Drang points out, not all implementations of tail have this option.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022