fighting with xargs :-( - Solved

Don Russell fedora at
Mon Jun 26 17:13:07 UTC 2006

Don Russell wrote:
> Not FC5 specific...
> I am trying to use a (simple) command to gzip a bunch of files in a 
> given directory... BUT I want to keep the original files too. gzip 
> does not seem to have an option to keep the original file. In some 
> cases, the file names contain blanks and or $ characters...
> I want to gzip each file individually, not combine several files into 
> one .gz file.
> So, I thought some form of ls and xargs would do the trick and I would 
> be done in 5 minutes. :-)
> ls -1 *[^.gz] | xargs -r -I {fn} gzip -c {fn} > {fn}.gz
> (hours pass, reams of reading later...)
> I added the -p option to xargs so I could see what it is actually 
> doing (vs what I think it should do) and see the command actually 
> stops at the >. The > {fn}.gz isn't part of the command created by 
> xargs...
> Try again, escaping the > ...
> ls -1 *[^.gz] | xargs -rp -I {fn} gzip -c {fn} \> {fn}.gz

Thanks to all who replied..... I learned a very important thing about 
xargs.... xargs does not use a shell to run the command, so the command 
build by xargs cannot use redirection.

This is what I did in it's place and it works well, including handling 
file with blanks etc...

find *[^.gz] -print0 | while read -d $'\0' fn;
    gzip -c --best "$fn" > "$fn.gz";
    touch -r "$fn" "$fn.gz";

Works great.... not as easy as, say...
ls -1Q *[^.gz] | xargs -rI {fn} gzip -k --best {fn}

Where a -k option means "and keep the original file where you are done"

But, there it is... and it works fne. :-)

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