I was trying to access redis-cli but because i'm that lazy i typed red and hit tab twice, but i noticed that there's a binary actually called red which is located under /bin/.

When I did

cat /bin/red

it showed

#! /bin/sh
bindir=`echo "$0" | sed -e 's,[^/]*$,,'`
exec "${bindir}"ed --restricted "$@"

Any idea what that is?

Note. when i execute red, it just waits for an input and whatever i type in, it either saves it and waits for another prompt or returns ?, note that only when hitting q it exits. also when inserting numbers from 0-9 and keep enter it shows every input you inserted when it saved what you typed earlier


a <<<-- input
bsa <<< input taken without ?
^C <<<--- hitting ctrl-c
?  <<<--- output


qwrefdf <<-- saved because it didn't output ? after typing "a" up
 <<- waiting for input

so "h" outputs in "invalid address" and only "a", "x", "c" and "i" accepts input. everything else other than numbers results in ?

  • 3
    For what it's worth, you could answer this question yourself by running the command dpkg -S /bin/red. This will tell you that the file is part of the ed package, and apt-cache show ed will give you a description of that package. – David Jul 8 at 22:16
  • 3
    Very important : don't execute blindly some application you don't know. Even Linux has malware... – Goufalite Jul 9 at 6:26
  • 7
    Ed is the standard text editor. gnu.org/fun/jokes/ed-msg.html – IMSoP Jul 9 at 9:02
  • 4
    Or even more straightforward: man red. – OrangeDog Jul 9 at 15:42
  • @IMSoP I like how in the joke they made vi ridiculously large at 1.3MB. Fast-forward almost 30 years, and the vim binary on my system is actually twice the joke size at 2.7MB :') – marcelm Jul 9 at 16:18

red is ed in restricted mode.

$ whatis red
red (1)              - line-oriented text editor

$ man red
shows `ed` man page.

Also, the code shows, it executes ed --restricted from bindir with all arguments ("$@").

For a manual on ed and its commands, run info Ed.

In the chapter Invoking ed:

The format for running 'ed' is:



'-r' '--restricted' Run in restricted mode. This mode disables edition of files out of the current directory and execution of shell commands.

  • Useful commands for producing some of the information in this answer: file /bin/red and cat /bin/red (since file shows that it's a "POSIX shell script, ASCII text executable). – Dennis Williamson Jul 9 at 19:33

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