gawk - Linux


gawk is the GNU version of the awk programming language interpreter. It is designed for pattern scanning and processing. gawk is particularly powerful for analyzing and manipulating text files, transforming data, extracting formatted reports, and performing arithmetic or text operations on file data.


gawk [options] [--] 'program' file...
gawk [options] [--] -f program-file file...
  • program: A set of awk commands.
  • program-file: A file containing awk commands.
  • file...: One or more files to be processed by the gawk commands.


  • -f file: Specifies a file that contains the awk script.
  • -F fs: Sets the input field separator (the value of the FS variable in awk).
  • -v var=value: Assigns the value to a variable before execution.
  • -m [val]: Memory limits the maximum amount of memory gawk uses.
  • --profile [file]: Writes a profile of the gawk execution to a file.
  • --lint: Warns about constructs that are dubious or non-portable to other awk implementations.
  • --posix: Forces gawk to follow the POSIX standard for awk syntax.
  • -W compat: Tries to be more compatible with old awk versions.


Basic Output

echo "Hello World" | gawk '{print $0}'

Field Separator

echo "name:age" | gawk -F ":" '{print "Name: " $1 ", Age: " $2}'

Script File

# script.awk
# {
#   print $1
# }
gawk -f script.awk file.txt

Complex Operations

echo -e "1\n2\n3\n4\n5" | gawk 'BEGIN { sum=0 } { sum+=$1 } END { print "Sum:", sum }'

Common Issues

  • Field Separator Confusion: Users often forget to set -F causing unexpected behavior in field splitting.
  • File Not Found: Specifying script files that do not exist. Always check file paths.
  • Syntax Errors in Script: Common in complex awk scripts. Debugging can be facilitated by reducing script size or using --lint.


gawk complements tools like sed, grep, and cut. Here’s a pipeline example:

cat data.txt | grep "somePattern" | gawk -F, '{print $2, $3}'

In scripts, gawk can be used to preprocess data that will be further processed by other tools or scripts.

  • awk: The standard awk interpreter.
  • nawk: An enhanced version of awk found on some systems.
  • sed: A stream editor for filtering and transforming text.

For further reading, consider exploring the official GNU gawk manual at