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yum list installed kernel\*

I don't understand how this would differ from "kernel*", or why the backslash is necessary.

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Hm. Not too sure then. Normally \* would mean you search for a literal asterisk and not the wildcard. – slhck Jun 4 '11 at 11:46
Seems like kernel* and "kernel*" give the same results. Perhaps yum passes this parameter to something else, so the * needs to be escaped first. – Rave Jun 4 '11 at 11:54

My guess: to prevent shell glob expansion in case you execute the command in a directory containing some file beginning with "kernel".

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