In the world of Linux, redirecting output to a file or the standard output (stdout) is a fundamental technique that allows us to capture and manipulate command output efficiently.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced user, understanding how to redirect output can greatly enhance your productivity and provide you with more control over your command-line operations.
Through this guide, you will learn the process of redirecting output to a file and stdout in Linux.
Redirecting Output to a File in Linux
At some point where you want to save or redirect command output into a specific file for any reason, like debugging. In Linux, to save the output of a file, we use stdout, which is also known as the stream command.
In computing, the stream is something that transfers data. In our case, it is text data. Using stdout, we can stream and save that data into a text file for future use.
Before proceeding ahead, First, you should know what is Redirection and a combination of operators.
A redirection symbol directly redirects the command into a file instead of showing output on a terminal. There is a combination of redirection symbols that you can use like
In Linux, what we type is called “stdin”, and the output we receive is known as “stdout”. If the output file does not exist in a specific location, it will recreate automatically and save the file.
Make sure if you have used
“>”, then the past data will replace with fresh command output. If you want to redirect both “stdout” and “stderr”, then use
Now we will use this redirection symbol to redirect the output into the file.
Redirect Output to File in Linux
When you use
“>” redirection operator, it will redirect command output into a specific file. If you used the same file again to redirect, then the last output will be overwritten.
We will demonstrate it using the pwd command and hostnamectl command to show system info with a redirect
“>” to save output into demofile.txt.
First, we will save the current working directory output to a file.
$ pwd > demofile.txt
Now we will redirect the second output into the file.
$ hostnamectl > demofile.txt
Now view the contents of the file.
$ cat demofile.txt
Appending Output to a File in Linux
When you use this
“>>” redirection operator, it will redirect command output into a specific file, and ensure that the last saved data should not get a wiped and append new output into the same file.
For example, we will again use the pwd and hostnamectl commands to show system information with a redirect
“>>” to save output into demofile.txt.
$ pwd > demofile.txt $ hostnamectl >> demofile.txt $ cat demofile.txt
From the above output, you can see all the past outputs are still available in the same file.
Discard Output to “/dev/null” in Linux
Sometimes you may want to discard output entirely. In such cases, you can redirect output to the “/dev/null” device file, which acts as a black hole for data.
$ command > /dev/null
In this example, the ls command lists the contents of the current directory, but the output is redirected to /dev/null. This effectively discards the output, as /dev/null acts as a black hole for data. No file is created or overwritten, and the output is not visible in the terminal or saved anywhere.
$ ls > /dev/null
Redirecting Output to Stdout in Linux
Redirecting output to stdout allows you to display command output on the terminal or use it as input for other commands.
Here are some common methods to perform this process on your Linux system.
Using “echo” Command
The echo command is another way to output text or variables to stdout; by using redirection, you can redirect the output to the terminal or a file.
$ echo "Hello, Linux Users!" > output.txt
Using “tee” Command
The “tee” command reads from standard input and simultaneously writes to both stdout and files, helping you to display output on the terminal and save it to a file simultaneously.
$ ls | tee directory_lists.txt
The above command displays the output on the terminal as soon as you execute it and save the information in the “directory_list.txt” file. You can retrieve the information from this file using the cat command later on.
Using “pip” Command
In Linux, you can chain commands together using pipes
(|) to redirect output from one command as input to another. This allows you to perform complex operations.
In this example, the ls command lists the contents of the current directory, and the output is then piped
(|) to the grep command, which searches for lines containing the word “file” in the output of ls, enabling you to filter the output of one command and pass it as input to another command.
$ ls | grep "file"
Understanding how to redirect output to a file and stdout in Linux is a crucial skill that can greatly enhance productivity and provide greater control over command-line operations.
By utilizing methods such as using the
">" operator, appending output to a file, discarding output with “/dev/null” and redirecting output to stdout using commands like “echo,” “tee” and piping, you can streamline your workflow and efficiently manage command output in your Linux environment.