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Re: sed bug with options -ir

From: Davide Brini
Subject: Re: sed bug with options -ir
Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2011 23:10:29 +0200

On Tue, 30 Aug 2011 21:33:34 +0200, David Watzke <address@hidden> wrote:

> Hi there,
> I've encountered a strange bug in sed (or maybe it's not a bug and I'm 
> missing something here):
> this command works fine and adds dashes between numbers:
> sed -i -r "s/([0-9]+) ([0-9]+) ([0-9]+)$/\1-\2-\3/" mobily.txt
> the file mobily.txt contains something like this (it's not important):
> name surname 000 111 222
> but the same command with -i and -r written in a short form like this 
> doesn't work:
> sed -ir "s/([0-9]+) ([0-9]+) ([0-9]+)$/\1-\2-\3/" mobily.txt
> sed: -e expression #1, char 39: invalid reference \3 on `s' command's RHS
> Why is that?

It's not a bug. -i -r and -ir are NOT the same thing.

"-i -r" says "edit the file in place (pseudo), without making a backup (-i),
and use extended regular expressions (-r)".

"-ir" says "edit the file in place, and make a backup appending the
extension "r" to the original file name". So you may find a file
"mobily.txtr" in the same directory if the program ran successfully;
however, since you're not specifying -r anymore, the program fails because
it sees ERE syntax (in BRE, "(...)" are literal and do not create capture


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