Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Renaming multiple files in Linux

19th August 2012

The Linux and UNIX command mv has a number of limitations, such as not overwriting destination files and not renaming multiple files using wildcards. The only solution to the first that I can find is one that involves combining the cp and rm commands. For the second, there’s another command: rename. There is a command like it in Windows but this one is a little different in its syntax. Before saying more about that, here’s an example like what I used recently:

rename s/fedora/fedora2/ fedora.*

The first argument in the above command is a regular expression much like what Perl is famous for implementing; in fact, it is Perl-compatible ones (PCRE) that are used. The s before the first slash stands for substitute with fedora being the string that needs to be replaced and fedora being what replaces it. The third command is the file name glob that you want to use, fedora.* in this case. Therefore, all files in a directory named fedora will be renamed fedora2 regardless of the file type. The same sort of operation can be performed for all files with the same extension and it needing changing, htm to html, for instance. Of course, there are other uses but these are handy ones to know.

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