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Multi-character field separators in sort

From: Michael Muratet
Subject: Multi-character field separators in sort
Date: Wed, 19 Aug 2009 11:11:25 -0500


I'm sure this question has come up, but I cannot find the answer in the archives. I have a make file generated by a third-party python script with the following line that I am trying to run in bash on CentOS 5.2:

set -o pipefail;  cat s_1_1_export.txt | \
awk -F$'\t' '$13 != "" && $NF == "Y" {OFS="\t"; --NF; $13 = sprintf("%011d", $13+10000); print $0}' | \
        sort -T . --field-separator="      " --buffer-size=500M -k11,13 | \
awk -F$'\t' '{OFS="\t"; $13 = $13-10000; print $0}' > s_1_1_sorted.txt.tmp && mv s_1_1_sorted.txt.tmp s_1_1_sorted.txt

I am having two problems with the sort command. The first is that it reports sort: cannot create temporary file: ./sortdKFMLK: Permission denied. The directory permissions are wide open. I solved that by increasing the buffer to 1000M. The second problem persists. The 3- space field separator is generating an error, sort: multi-character tab ' ". I've found a lot of discussion about how various shells treat escaped characters, but I'm looking for a definitive statement that sort can handle separators with more than one character (or not).

I have v5.97 of the coreutils and b3.2.25(1) of bash.



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