Argument mnemonics


I like argument and option mnemonics. I can see why standard usage documentation prefers to sort arguments l15y, but this way makes them much easier to remember.

For example, my standard directory listings:

$ ls -cola

From the FreeBSD ls(1) manpage:

  • Use time when file status was last changed for sorting or printing
  • Include the file flags in a long (-l) output
  • List files in the long format
  • List all; include directory entries whose names begin with a dot

Or for sorting by ascending time modified, using the name of those Singaporean and Malaysian train systems:

$ ls -lrt

From that same manpage:

  • List files in the long format
  • Reverse the order of the sort
  • Sort by descending time modified (most recently modified first)

And the classic, audio-sounding aux:

$ ps aux

From the FreeBSD ps(1) manpage:

  • Display information about other users’ processes as well
  • Display information associated with the following keywords: user, pid, %cpu, %mem, vsz, rss, tt, state, start, time, and command.
  • When displaying processes matched by other options, include processes which do not have a controlling terminal

And finally, a somewhat lowbrow insult to give to a folder that may be using way too much of your drive space:

$ du -sh

From the FreeBSD du(1) manpage:

  • Display an entry for each specified file
  • “Human-readable” output. Use unit suffixes.

Unfortunately, tar and related tools will never have mnemonic arguments, unless cjvf becomes an overpriced clothing line or something.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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