You are likely to be familiar with using Ctrl+F from an editor, word processor, web browser, IDE, etc to quickly locate where a particular string occurs. grep is similar, but much more versatile and feature-rich version of the search functionality usable from the command line. Modern requirements have given rise to tools like ripgrep that provide out-of-box features such as recursive search while respecting ignore rules of a version controlled directory. An important feature that the GUI applications may lack is regular expressions, which helps to precisely define a matching criteria. You could consider it as sort of a mini-programming language in itself. So, apart from covering command options, regular expressions will also be discussed in detail in this book.

The book heavily leans on examples to present features one by one. It is recommended that you manually type each example and experiment with them. Understanding both the nature of sample input string and the output produced is essential. As an analogy, consider learning to drive a bike or a car — no matter how much you read about them or listen to explanations, you need to practice a lot and infer your own conclusions. Should you feel that copy-paste is ideal for you, code snippets are available chapter wise on GitHub.

My Command Line Text Processing repository includes a chapter on GNU grep which has been edited and expanded to create this book.


Prior experience working with command line and bash shell, should know concepts like file redirection, command pipeline and so on.

If you are new to the world of command line, check out my curated resources on Linux CLI and Shell scripting before starting this book.


  • The examples presented here have been tested on GNU bash shell with GNU grep 3.6 and ripgrep 12.1.1 and includes features not available in earlier versions.
  • Code snippets shown are copy pasted from bash shell and modified for presentation purposes. Some commands are preceded by comments to provide context and explanations. Blank lines have been added to improve readability, only real time is shown for speed comparisons, output is skipped for commands like wget and so on.
  • Unless otherwise noted, all examples and explanations are meant for ASCII characters.
  • External links are provided for further reading throughout the book. Not necessary to immediately visit them. They have been chosen with care and would help, especially during re-reads.
  • The learn_gnugrep_ripgrep repo has all the code snippets and files used in examples, exercises and other details related to the book. If you are not familiar with git command, click the Code button on the webpage to get the files.


Special thanks to all my friends and online acquaintances for their help, support and encouragement, especially during difficult times.

Feedback and Errata

I would highly appreciate if you'd let me know how you felt about this book, it would help to improve this book as well as my future attempts. Also, please do let me know if you spot any error or typo.

Issue Manager:



Author info

Sundeep Agarwal is a freelance trainer, author and mentor. His previous experience includes working as a Design Engineer at Analog Devices for more than 5 years. You can find his other works, primarily focused on Linux command line, text processing, scripting languages and curated lists, at He has also been a technical reviewer for Command Line Fundamentals book and video course published by Packt.

List of books:


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Code snippets are available under MIT License

Resources mentioned in Acknowledgements section above are available under original licenses.

Book version


See to track changes across book versions.