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I want to count the number of lines in a file using wc -l but only output the number, without the following space and filename. Edit from comments: The filename may have numbers in it.

Currently if I do:

wc -l /path/to/file

On a file with 176 lines, the output is:

176 /path/to/file

This is within a bash script, and the resulting number will be assigned as the value of a variable.

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wc -l < /path/to/file – Cyrus Mar 3 at 19:57
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I'd use:

<file wc -l

Which contarily to cat file | wc -l doesn't need to fork a shell and to run another process (and runs faster):

% time </tmp/ramdisk/file wc -l     
wc -l < /tmp/ramdisk/file  0,07s user 0,06s system 97% cpu 0,132 total
% time cat /tmp/ramdisk/file | wc -l
cat /tmp/ramdisk/file  0,01s user 0,16s system 80% cpu 0,204 total
wc -l  0,09s user 0,10s system 94% cpu 0,203 total

(/tmp/ramdisk/file was stored in a ramdisk to take I/O and caching out of the equation.)

However for small files indeed the difference is neglectable.

Yet another way would be:

wc -l file | cut -d ' ' -f 1

Which in my tests performs approximately the same as <file wc -l.

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or you could use wc -l < /etc/passwd . Same thing, just different syntax :) – Serg Mar 3 at 21:10
Cheers, I'd tried using cut previously, but got hung up on using -c which wasn't useful as the line count could be of variable length. – Arronical Mar 4 at 9:47
Nice. I tried using cut as well, but clearly couldn't get the syntax right. – Elder Geek Mar 5 at 3:14

You can do this with a simple one liner using cat. cat deluge1.log | wc -l

Answer too simple to require a long drawn out answer.

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Ah, I forgot to mention that the filenames may have numbers in them! – Arronical Mar 3 at 17:20
I've ended up using an intermediate variable, with bash expansion, so line_count=$(wc -l ${file}) then no_of_lines="${line_count/ */} – Arronical Mar 3 at 17:22
Proving once again there are many ways to accomplish the same result. ;-) – Elder Geek Mar 3 at 17:24
I definitely prefer the simple cat usage, to save on assigning more variables. Cheers for editing the question too, was just about to get round to that. – Arronical Mar 3 at 17:28
This is a useless use of cat , but it sure works :) – Serg Mar 3 at 21:09

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