Last Updated: February 25, 2016
· chip

Top 10 shell commands you currently use - Part 2

In a previous post, I demonstrated how you can get a list of the Top 10 shell commands you currently use, and how you can use this information to improve your workflow.

Since then I've received a number of suggestions and have also thought about this command a good bit more, so I thought that I could offer a variation on the implementation.

The previous version used awk, but this one will instead use cut, as follows:

history \|
cut -c8- \|
cut -d' ' -f1 \|
sort \|
uniq -c \|
sort -nr \|

I've formatted this solution to show only one command per line, just so that it's easy to read and follow my step-by-step description.

1. To start off, and without surprise, we issue the history command.

2. Next, we use cut to remove the first 8 characters only of the output. My system is OS X, so just keep in mind that if you're on another system, the spacing of the output might possibly vary a little.

3. Again we use cut, but this time we accept the output of the previous command by using the -d option, where we specify it to split on a single space, but ask for only the first field of the result set to be returned using the -f option.

4. Next up is really nothing special. We simply sort the output.

5. We then filter the sorted results using uniq, but we've made sure to include the -c option to precede each output line with the count of the number of times the line occurred in the input, followed by a single space. Special thanks to @tdl for this tip in my previous post.

6. To round out the most frequently used commands, we are sure to sort the output numerically due to the command counts provided by uniq, and to be sure to do so in reverse order since we're interested in the most frequently occurring commands first.

7. Lastly, we use head to show the Top 10 shell commands. Of course, you could always vary this a bit if you're interested in more than 10 by simply specifying -n count, where count should be replaced with the number of results you desire.

The previous tip was so popular that I felt this merited some more thought. I think it's a great example not only of how to improve your workflow, but also how shell commands can generally solve problems in variety of ways.

For more UNIX tips, please check out
Learning the UNIX Command Line.