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This is probably not a Ubuntu question as such, but a Linux one instead, still hope some Linux user out there can help me understand this.

I'm trying to use the find command to look for some files an a directory tree.

Unfortunately some of the files are named beginning with a dash, like -000.jpg, -002.jpg, 00n.jpg and so on. However, every time that the command locates one of the files named that way, it just interrupts the process and complains in the following way:

find: unknown predicate `-001.jpg'

or whatever the file beginning with a dash is named.

It seems to me that somehow the find command is interpreting the resulting filename as an argument, but I haven't found a way to circumvent this behavior.

Thanks in advance for sharing your wisdom.

share|improve this question
This is strange behavior and probably a bug...but I wonder if what's going on is that you have an expression with wildcards in your find command itself that is being expanded by the shell into filenames starting with - (before it is given to find). Can you edit your question to add the full and exact text of the find command you're issuing, which is producing this problem? – Eliah Kagan May 25 '12 at 19:02
What is the exact command line you are using? – Florian Diesch May 25 '12 at 19:34

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Make sure you quote the patterns you provide to find, otherwise the shell may expand them if there are matching files in the current dir.

find /some/dir -name *.jpg   # bad
find /some/dir -name "*.jpg" # good


share|improve this answer
I just did find ~/folder -name "*.png" and got the error stated in the title. – isomorphismes Jun 27 at 23:02
@isomorphismes, that line will not produce that error message on its own. It must be caused by other factors. E.g. if you try to put the find command in a variable, then run that variable, that is a plausible way to get that type of error. If that's the case, the solution is simple; don't put commands in variables. – geirha Jun 28 at 7:35
I accidentally restarted my computer in the last two days and it works now, so I guess I can't reproduce the problem or test it any longer. I can't think of what would have changed but it wasn't using a variable. I just ran the naked line. – isomorphismes Jun 30 at 20:21
It may have been that I used find /some/dir -name="*.jpg" with a = instead of a space. HTH some googler. – isomorphismes Jul 8 at 23:08

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