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How to simplify this command in linux consisting of cat piped to a grep.

cat foo*.txt | grep cow

and i was told that this is the wrong way to do this, why is that?

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It is not as much 'wrong' as wasteful. This is gratuitous use of cat. – Hennes May 21 '13 at 5:31
up vote 6 down vote accepted

You can pass filenames to grep:

grep cow foo*.txt

It's “wrong” because you're using cat when you don't need it, really.

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