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regular expressions in find

After upgrading one of my linux boxes from CentOS 6.8 to 6.9, I wanted to find out the files that I had to review. From experience I already knew what file names I should check: .rpmsave & .rpmnew

The command I usually type is: find

# find /etc/|egrep ".*rpm(save|new)$"


a more nice way is to tell find to search for files with type: file to exclude any binary searches:

# find /etc/ -type f |egrep ".*rpm(save|new)$"


but find is a very powerful command, and reading through the manual page:

-regex pattern

File name matches regular expression pattern. This is a match on the whole path, not a
search. For example, to match a file named ‘./fubar3’, you can use the regular expression
‘.bar.’ or ‘.b.3’, but not ‘f.r3’. The regular expressions understood by find are by
default Emacs Regular Expressions, but this can be changed with the -regextype option.

ok, we are getting somewhere. I can use -regex with an emacs regular expression pattern to search.

# find /etc/ -type f -regex ".*rpm(save|new)$"

Nothing in output !!! aka this is a “WAT ?????” moment.


Perhaps I am not typing an emacs regex.
Let’s try to use an alternative:

# find /etc/ -type f -regextype -name "*rpmsave$"

valid types are findutils-default',awk’, egrep',ed’, emacs',gnu-awk’, grep',posix-awk’, posix-basic',posix-egrep’, posix-extended',posix-minimal-basic’, `sed’.

With this typo, I can find out what the alternatives

ok, let’s try egrep or anything else:

# find /etc/ -type f -regex ".*rpm(save|new)$" -regextype sed

# find /etc/ -type f -regex ".*rpm(save|new)$" -regextype posix-egrep
# find /etc/ -type f -name ".*rpm(save|new)$" -regextype posix-egrep

# find /etc/ -type f -name ".*rpm(save|new)$" -regextype egrep
# find /etc/ -type f -name ".*rpm(save|new)$" -regextype sed
# find /etc/ -type f -name ".*rpmsave$" -regextype sed
# find /etc/ -type f -name ".*rpmsave$" -regextype posix-egrep
# find /etc/ -type f -name ".*rpmsave$" -regextype egrep

# find /etc/ -type f -regex ".*rpm(save)$" -regextype egrep
# find /etc/ -type f -regex ".*rpm(save|new)$" -regextype egrep

Nothing !!!

Am I typing this correctly ?

# find /etc/ -type f | egrep ".*rpm(save|new)$"


then, what the h3ll?

Let’s read the manual page, once more:

The -daystart, -follow and -regextype options are different in this respect, and have an effect only on tests which appear later in the command line. Therefore, for clarity, it is best to place them at the beginning of the expression


I need to put -regextype before the regex.

# find /etc/ -type f -regextype egrep -regex ".*rpm(save|new)$"


Yeah !