Your Linux system comes pre-loaded with many helpful command line utilities. Some of these are commonly used and mentioned, like
diff. But there are many more utilities hidden in your system that might be of use to you. A good working knowledge of command line utilities can help you write small, efficient scripts, and give you a better overall sense of what you have available to you in your system for completing your tasks.
What are the use cases for shuffling text? With an obscure tool like
shuf, an immediate use case is not obvious. But imagine you have a list, or several lines of text in a file, and you want to randomly sort them. Let’s say you have a list of server maintenance tasks, and you can’t decide which one to work on first. Let
shuf shuffle them for you.
Shuffle Text From Standard Input
shuf command will shuffle what you give it. Using the -e option, it will treat each operand as a separate input line:
$ shuf -e one two three two three one
Notice how the random output sorted “one two three” into “two three one.”
Shuffle Lines of Text From File
But in many cases, you might not be shuffling data from standard input but instead feeding data from a file. For example, let’s say we have file called
input.txt with the following lines of text:
First line Second line Third line
We can use
shuf to shuffle each of these lines and provide us with a result:
$ shuf input.txt Third line Second line First line
Random Number Generation
shuf, you can also easily simulate a dice roll or random number generation using numbers as input. The following command will simulate five rolls of a single die:
shuf -r -n 5 -i 1-6
-r option allows a number to be repeated. The
-n limits the amount of rolls to produce 5 lines of output, and
-i indicates the range of input (in this case, 6).
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