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I'm a little new on searching via bash, so feel free to give me suggestions on the methods to use instead of this, which I'll never use again.

I'm searching for occurances of a string, recursively in a directory, with ~50 not-that-large php-files in it; some in current directory, some in directories beneath current dir, three levels of directories down at most.

The method I'm using is

find . | xargs grep "module" > module.txt

When in simple (one level) directories, this works fine, but in this case, the file became 4 GB large until it filled up all space on the partition. It wasn't even done yet.

Why is that file growing so large?

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migrated from Mar 10 '10 at 4:43

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

To understand recursion is to understand recursion – Tim Post Mar 9 '10 at 10:56
Why close? It's essentially a case of unintended recursion. As a concept, it certainly is programming-related. – MSalters Mar 9 '10 at 10:57
Shell interaction seem to be a tricky issue for site selection. On one hand shells are programs you use, on the other hand they are Turing complete languages in which one writes programs. So site selection depends on a judgment call about whether you are "programming" or not. This is a one-liner which I would have introduced on Super User in the first place, but it is enough of a programmer's problem that I wouldn't vote to move it. – dmckee Mar 9 '10 at 16:51
up vote 20 down vote accepted

module.txt is created before the pipeline starts, therefore it is included in the search. grep finds an instance of "module" in it, so a line is added to it containing the word "module". Which grep then finds, and adds. Which grep then finds, and adds. Which grep then finds, and adds. Which...

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+1 good one.... – user22644 Mar 9 '10 at 10:52
Nasty. Ok, that's the problem, could you point me to a solution? I.e. with another syntax or just something to add to this search? – chelmertz Mar 9 '10 at 10:54
@OP: Solution is to ensure your result file name does not contain the search keyword. – user22644 Mar 9 '10 at 10:55
Store the file outside the search parameters. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Mar 9 '10 at 10:56
@coddadict: of course, +1. Would this be faster or slower than what @MBO suggested? – chelmertz Mar 9 '10 at 10:57

And what is the output without > module.txt.

Why not try to use grep -R "module" . > ../module.txt?

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find /path -type f -iname "*.php" | while read -r FILE
  grep -H "module" "$FILE" >> "file_with_search_term_found.txt"

Or if your grep has recursive function,

grep -RH "module" *.php

Or with bash 4.0 shell

shopt -s globstar
for file in /path/**/*.php
   if [ -f "$file" ];then
      while read -r line 
         case "$line" in
           *module* ) echo $line >> module.txt;;
      done <"file"      

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Or find -name '*.php' -exec grep -q -H "module" {} \; -print > ../module.txt. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Mar 9 '10 at 11:11
i prefer find /path -type f -iname "*.php" -exec grep -q -H "module" "{}" +; ... – user31894 Mar 9 '10 at 12:00

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