The Linux Letter: I Once Was Lost but Now Am Found

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Like humans, most computers tend to gain weight as they age. OK, they don't really gain weight. But they do tend to gather stuff on their hard drives that consumes expensive disk space--space that could be put to better use. Worse, that trash fills up your backup media, consuming time and materials there, too.

While many tomes have been written about disk space recovery on an iSeries, there is also an open-source tool available that can help you hunt down and manage files on your Integrated File System (IFS)--whether they are used as part of your OS/400 software, as part of PASE, or as part of a Linux partition.

Find or Find File

Most of you have used a Windows machine and are aware of the Windows "Find File" utility, a handy tool to find misplaced files over local or network drives. Thus, when you move to a UNIX-like OS, you may overlook one of the most powerful tools available, the Find utility, because you think it's just a command-line version of the utility with which you are so familiar. Bzzzzt! Wrong!

Even if you have been using Linux for some time, you still may not have an appreciation for the power and elegance embodied in the Find utility. A quick look at the feature list shows that Find can locate files 1) by name or partial name, 2) by size or a range of sizes, 3) by date and time of last access, last modification, or last change, 4) by comparison with the date/time of another file, 5) by owner, 6) by file permission, 7) by file type (directory, link, etc.), or 8) by any combination of the preceding. And once Find locates a file matching your criteria, it can execute a command against it, making the appropriate file name substitutions as required.

Here's the format of the Find command:

find path expression

Here, path is the directory from which Find begins it search, and expression is a group of operators passed to Find.

So that we can more easily discuss Find, I have created a bogus directory below, adding files and a directory to it. The files with the .java extension are, of course, Java programs. Files with .c or .cpp are C and C++ programs, respectively. And the lone file with the .sh extension is a shell script.

[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$ ll
total 12256
-rw-rw-r--    1 klinebl  klinebl      3148 Oct 28 11:28
drwxrwxr-x    2 klinebl  klinebl      4096 Oct 28 11:28 dir1
-rw-rw-r--    1 klinebl  klinebl      5120 Jan  1  2001
-rw-rw-r--    1 klinebl  klinebl    102400 Feb  2  2002
-rw-rw-r--    1 klinebl  klinebl   1024000 Mar  3  2003
-rw-rw-r--    1 klinebl  klinebl  10240000 Apr  4  2003
-rw-rw-r--    1 klinebl  klinebl      5120 Oct 28 11:10 program5.c
-rw-rw-r--    1 klinebl  klinebl    102400 Oct 28 11:10 program6.cpp
-rwxr-xr-x    1 klinebl  klinebl   1024000 Oct 28 11:10
[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$

Let's start with a very simple example in which we want to produce a listing of all Java programs. The command and the results are shown below:

[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$ find . -name "*.java" -print
[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$

The first parameter to the Find command is the path (or paths) to search. In this case, we're in the directory where we want to begin the search. Thus, we'll use a period (.) to denote the current directory. After the directory come the operators. The first (-name) specifies the file(s) that we want to find. The second operator causes the file name currently under consideration to be printed. Notice that there is a Java program in the dir1 directory that Find located. This is because Find will traverse your directory tree, starting at the point you indicated.

Let's try the same request, this time swapping the order of the operators:

[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$ find . -print -name "*.java"
[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$

Huh? What happened here? This anomaly deserves an explanation. The operators to Find return logical values and are divided into three categories:

  • Options, which affect how Find behaves and always return a true value
  • Tests, which can return true or false
  • Actions, the logical value of which depends on exit status of the action.

As it executes, Find traverses the directory (or directories) and for each file it finds, evaluates from left to right the expression (the list of operators) that you provide. It will continue the evaluation as long as it gets a true return value (indicating that the list of operators is logically ANDed together). Once a false value is returned, Find will cease evaluation and go on to the next file. In our successful example, the "-print" operator was executed only when the test "-name" returned a true value. Thus, only files matching our request were printed. If we put the "-print" operator before the test, it is always executed, producing the erroneous results.

Let's try a slightly more complicated example. This time, we want to find both Java and C++ programs. Here are the command and results:

[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$ find . ( -name "*.java" -o -name "*.cpp" ) -print
[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$

As with any logical expression, you can use parentheses to force the order of evaluation. In this case, we would need the parentheses so that "-print" will be executed whenever we find either a Java or C++ program.

You may be wondering what the backslashes are for. No, it wasn't transmission line noise injected when I sent this article to MC Press. Instead, the backslashes are used to let the shell know that you want the parentheses passed on to the command instead of being used by the shell itself. Failure to so mark the parentheses (called "escaping") results in the following error:

[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$ find . ( -name "*.java" -o -name "*.cpp" ) -print
bash: syntax error near unexpected token `('
[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$

Now that you have an idea how Find evaluates expressions, let's look at a series of simple examples that show it in use.

First, let's get a list of all files (-type f) that are greater than 512 K in size (-size +512k), followed by a list of files smaller than 512 K (-size -512k), followed by a list of files exactly 512 K. We'll use the "-ls" operator instead of the "-print" operator to indicate that we would like the output in the same format as given by the ls -dils command. The "-type f" is used to indicate only regular files, excluding things such as directories and symbolic links.

[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$ find . -type f -size +512k -ls
3335952 1004 -rw-rw-r--   1 klinebl  klinebl   1024000 Mar  3  2003 ./
3335953 10016 -rw-rw-r--   1 klinebl  klinebl  10240000 Apr  4  2003 ./
3335956 1004 -rwxr-xr-x   1 klinebl  klinebl   1024000 Oct 28 11:10 ./
[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$ find . -type f -size -512k -ls
3335950    8 -rw-rw-r--   1 klinebl  klinebl      5120 Jan  1  2001 ./
3335951  104 -rw-rw-r--   1 klinebl  klinebl    102400 Feb  2  2002 ./
3335954    8 -rw-rw-r--   1 klinebl  klinebl      5120 Oct 28 11:10 ./program5.c
3335955  104 -rw-rw-r--   1 klinebl  klinebl    102400 Oct 28 11:10 ./program6.cpp
1341401    4 -rw-rw-r--   1 klinebl  klinebl      2910 Oct 28 11:28 ./dir1/
3335957    4 -rw-rw-r--   1 klinebl  klinebl      3148 Oct 28 11:28 ./
[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$ find . -type f -size 512k -ls
[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$

The difference between the comparisons was in the use (or lack thereof) of the plus sign (+) and the minus sign (-). The former means anything greater than, the latter means anything less than, and the absence of either means equal to.

What if we want a list of files that were modified over a year ago and are over 100 K in size?

[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$ find . -type f -mtime +365 -size 100k -ls
3335951  104 -rw-rw-r--   1 klinebl  klinebl    102400 Feb  2  2002 ./
[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$


The Find utility would be handy enough if all it did was produce listings (because you could use the output of Find as input to another command, as you'll see shortly). One of the operators available to Find is "-exec," which executes a command. Substituting "-print" for "-exec" in our first example yields the following:

[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$ find . -name "*.java" -exec echo {} ;
[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$


The "-exec" operator is one whose logical value is based upon the return value of the command(s) executed. If the command was successful, then "-exec" will be true and Find will continue to evaluate the expression. Otherwise, the evaluation will stop. Once again, the backslash character is used--this time to escape the semicolon. Find considers anything between "-exec" and a semicolon to be the command string to execute. You need to convince the shell to pass the semicolon to Find, hence the need to escape it.

Using Echo within "-exec" is rather boring. What if we wanted to do something more utilitarian? How about if we save disk space by using the gzip utility on every Java source file that hasn't been modified for over a year? (The gzip utility is a file compressor that, by default, compresses a file and renames it with an extension of "gz.")


[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$ find . -name "*.java" -mtime +365 -print -exec gzip {} ;
[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$ ll
total 12156
-rw-rw-r--    1 klinebl  klinebl      3148 Oct 28 11:28
drwxrwxr-x    2 klinebl  klinebl      4096 Oct 28 11:28 dir1
-rw-rw-r--    1 klinebl  klinebl        53 Jan  1  2001
-rw-rw-r--    1 klinebl  klinebl       147 Feb  2  2002
-rw-rw-r--    1 klinebl  klinebl   1024000 Mar  3  2003
-rw-rw-r--    1 klinebl  klinebl  10240000 Apr  4  2003
-rw-rw-r--    1 klinebl  klinebl      5120 Oct 28 11:10 program5.c
-rw-rw-r--    1 klinebl  klinebl    102400 Oct 28 11:10 program6.cpp
-rwxr-xr-x    1 klinebl  klinebl   1024000 Oct 28 11:10
[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$


Take special note of the fact that the "-exec" operator is called each time a matching file is found. Sometimes, you want to deal with the complete list of files as a group. To do that, pipe the output to the command you want to use to operate on the list. For example, the tape archiver (tar) program allows you to save a list of files in a single file called an archive. In the previous example, we simply "gzipped" each matching file. What if we wanted to archive the files instead? That's simple:

[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$ find . -name "*.java" -mtime +365 | xargs tar -czf myarchive.tgz
[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$ tar -tzf myarchive.tgz
[klinebl@laptop2 demo]$


The xargs utility builds and executes command lines from standard input. So the output of the Find command is reformed into this command:

tar -czf myarchive.tgz ./ ./


Most of the time, you'll be better off using this form for efficiency's sake. Instead of spawning a process for each matching file, you'll only spawn one additional process for the list. Use "-exec" if you are interested in the outcome of the command you execute to effect the operation of Find or if the list you generate exceeds the maximum number of parameters that the command you wish to execute can handle.

Seek and Ye Shall Find

I've only touched on the simplest of uses for the Find utility. There are many operands available, but they vary by operating system. You'll need to check your documentation to determine what your vendor has added to the standard list. The GNU version included with RedHat 9 has 39 tests and a dozen supported actions. So the possibilities are endless.

The Find utility is supported both within the QSHELL and PASE environments on the iSeries, as well as on the various flavors of UNIX (and, of course, on Linux). So you can add it to your disk-cleaning arsenal on any of the platforms on which it is available.

Until next month, explore your IFS or Linux directories and see what you can find!

Barry L. Kline is a consultant and has been developing software on various DEC and IBM midrange platforms for over 20 years. Barry discovered Linux back in the days when it was necessary to download diskette images and source code from the Internet. Since then, he has installed Linux on hundreds of machines, where it functions as servers and workstations in iSeries and Windows networks. He recently co-authored the book Understanding Linux Web Hosting with Don Denoncourt. Barry can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Barry Kline

Barry L. Kline is a consultant and has been developing software on various DEC and IBM midrange platforms since the early 1980s. Barry discovered Linux back in the days when it was necessary to download diskette images and source code from the Internet. Since then, he has installed Linux on hundreds of machines, where it functions as servers and workstations in iSeries and Windows networks. He co-authored the book Understanding Web Hosting on Linux with Don Denoncourt. Barry can be reached at



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    • How can RDi help me find out if I’ve tested all lines of a program?
    • What’s the best way to transition from PDM to RDi?
    • How do I convince my long-term developers to use RDi?

    This is a unique, online opportunity to hear how you can get more out of RDi.


  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using as a pre-built development environment



  • Inside the Integrated File System (IFS)

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericDuring this webinar, you’ll learn basic tips, helpful tools, and integrated file system commands—including WRKLNK—for managing your IFS directories and Access Client Solutions (ACS). We’ll answer your most pressing IFS questions, including:

    • What is stored inside my IFS directories?
    • How do I monitor the IFS?
    • How do I replicate the IFS or back it up?
    • How do I secure the IFS?

    Understanding what the integrated file system is and how to work with it must be a critical part of your systems management plans for IBM i.


  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.



  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption



  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.



  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access




  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.


  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.



  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.



  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    SB Profound WC GenericHave you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.
    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.
    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.