Charly's Column – Shell History

Charly's Column – Shell History

Article from Issue 243/2021

For admins like Charly, who try to avoid typing at all costs, the shell offers an excellent opportunity to avoid wear on your fingertips in the form of built-in history.

There are commands that I type several dozen times a day – grep <something> /var/log/syslog is such a classic. The shell keeps a history of all my entries; thanks to the history command, I can always see in a numbered list which commands I typed last.

The history command is not a separate tool; typing which history at the command line just drops you into a black hole. Instead, history is a part of the shell, a built-in keyword. history's killer feature, for which lazy people like me are eternally grateful, is the interactive search. You enable it with Ctrl+R, changing the command-line prompt to (reverse-i-search)`':.

If you start typing now, for example, the word net, the shell will show you the last command typed containing net. When you press Ctrl+R again, the history feature shows you an increasing number of older commands that contain net (Figure 1).


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