Friday, June 22, 2012

Unix questions with answers

This article attempts to refresh your Unix skills in the form of a question/answer based Unix tutorial on Unix command lines. The commands discussed here are particulary useful for the developers working in the middle-tier (e.g. ETL) systems, where they may need to interact with several *nx source systems for data retrieval.

How to print/display the first line of a file?

There are many ways to do this. However the easiest way to display the first line of a file is using the [head] command.
$> head -1 file.txt
No prize in guessing that if you specify [head -2] then it would print first 2 records of the file.
Another way can be by using [sed] command. [Sed] is a very powerful text editor which can be used for various text manipulation purposes like this.
$> sed '2,$ d' file.txt
How does the above command work? The 'd' parameter basically tells [sed] to delete all the records from display from line 2 to last line of the file (last line is represented by $ symbol). Of course it does not actually delete those lines from the file, it just does not display those lines in standard output screen. So you only see the remaining line which is the 1st line.

How to print/display the last line of a file?

The easiest way is to use the [tail] command.
$> tail -1 file.txt
If you want to do it using [sed] command, here is what you should write:
$> sed -n '$ p' test
From our previous answer, we already know that '$' stands for the last line of the file. So '$ p' basically prints (p for print) the last line in standard output screen. '-n' switch takes [sed] to silent mode so that [sed] does not print anything else in the output.

How to display n-th line of a file?

The easiest way to do it will be by using [sed] I guess. Based on what we already know about [sed] from our previous examples, we can quickly deduce this command:
$> sed –n '<n> p' file.txt
You need to replace <n> with the actual line number. So if you want to print the 4th line, the command will be
$> sed –n '4 p' test
Of course you can do it by using [head] and [tail] command as well like below:
$> head -<n> file.txt | tail -1
You need to replace <n> with the actual line number. So if you want to print the 4th line, the command will be
$> head -4 file.txt | tail -1

How to remove the first line / header from a file?

We already know how [sed] can be used to delete a certain line from the output – by using the'd' switch. So if we want to delete the first line the command should be:
$> sed '1 d' file.txt
But the issue with the above command is, it just prints out all the lines except the first line of the file on the standard output. It does not really change the file in-place. So if you want to delete the first line from the file itself, you have two options.
Either you can redirect the output of the file to some other file and then rename it back to original file like below:
$> sed '1 d' file.txt > new_file.txt
$> mv new_file.txt file.txt
Or, you can use an inbuilt [sed] switch '–i' which changes the file in-place. See below:
$> sed –i '1 d' file.txt

How to remove the last line/ trailer from a file in Unix script?

Always remember that [sed] switch '$' refers to the last line. So using this knowledge we can deduce the below command:
$> sed –i '$ d' file.txt

How to remove certain lines from a file in Unix?

If you want to remove line <m> to line <n> from a given file, you can accomplish the task in the similar method shown above. Here is an example:
$> sed –i '5,7 d' file.txt
The above command will delete line 5 to line 7 from the file file.txt

How to remove the last n-th line from a file?

This is bit tricky. Suppose your file contains 100 lines and you want to remove the last 5 lines. Now if you know how many lines are there in the file, then you can simply use the above shown method and can remove all the lines from 96 to 100 like below:
$> sed –i '96,100 d' file.txt   # alternative to command [head -95 file.txt] 
But not always you will know the number of lines present in the file (the file may be generated dynamically, etc.) In that case there are many different ways to solve the problem. There are some ways which are quite complex and fancy. But let's first do it in a way that we can understand easily and remember easily. Here is how it goes:
$> tt=`wc -l file.txt | cut -f1 -d' '`;sed –i "`expr $tt - 4`,$tt d" test
As you can see there are two commands. The first one (before the semi-colon) calculates the total number of lines present in the file and stores it in a variable called “tt”. The second command (after the semi-colon), uses the variable and works in the exact way as shows in the previous example.

How to check the length of any line in a file?

We already know how to print one line from a file which is this:
$> sed –n '<n> p' file.txt
Where <n> is to be replaced by the actual line number that you want to print. Now once you know it, it is easy to print out the length of this line by using [wc] command with '-c' switch.
$> sed –n '35 p' file.txt | wc –c
The above command will print the length of 35th line in the file.txt.

How to get the nth word of a line in Unix?

Assuming the words in the line are separated by space, we can use the [cut] command. [cut] is a very powerful and useful command and it's real easy. All you have to do to get the n-th word from the line is issue the following command:
cut –f<n> -d' '
'-d' switch tells [cut] about what is the delimiter (or separator) in the file, which is space ' ' in this case. If the separator was comma, we could have written -d',' then. So, suppose I want find the 4th word from the below string: “A quick brown fox jumped over the lazy cat”, we will do something like this:
$> echo “A quick brown fox jumped over the lazy cat” | cut –f4 –d' '
And it will print “fox”

How to reverse a string in unix?

Pretty easy. Use the [rev] command.
$> echo "unix" | rev

How to get the last word from a line in Unix file?

We will make use of two commands that we learnt above to solve this. The commands are [rev] and [cut]. Here we go.
Let's imagine the line is: “C for Cat”. We need “Cat”. First we reverse the line. We get “taC rof C”. Then we cut the first word, we get 'taC'. And then we reverse it again.
$>echo "C for Cat" | rev | cut -f1 -d' ' | rev

How to get the n-th field from a Unix command output?

We know we can do it by [cut]. Like below command extracts the first field from the output of [wc –c] command
$>wc -c file.txt | cut -d' ' -f1
But I want to introduce one more command to do this here. That is by using [awk] command. [awk] is a very powerful command for text pattern scanning and processing. Here we will see how we may use of [awk] to extract the first field (or first column) from the output of another command. Like above suppose I want to print the first column of the [wc –c] output. Here is how it goes like this:
$>wc -c file.txt | awk ' '' {print $1}'
The basic syntax of [awk] is like this:
awk 'pattern space''{action space}'
The pattern space can be left blank or omitted, like below:
$>wc -c file.txt | awk '{print $1}'
In the action space, we have asked [awk] to take the action of printing the first column ($1). More on [awk] later.

How to replace the n-th line in a file with a new line in Unix?

This can be done in two steps. The first step is to remove the n-th line. And the second step is to insert a new line in n-th line position. Here we go.
Step 1: remove the n-th line
$>sed -i'' '10 d' file.txt       # d stands for delete
Step 2: insert a new line at n-th line position
$>sed -i'' '10 i This is the new line' file.txt     # i stands for insert

How to show the non-printable characters in a file?

Open the file in VI editor. Go to VI command mode by pressing [Escape] and then [:]. Then type [set list]. This will show you all the non-printable characters, e.g. Ctrl-M characters (^M) etc., in the file.

How to zip a file in Linux?

Use inbuilt [zip] command in Linux

How to unzip a file in Linux?

Use inbuilt [unzip] command in Linux.
$> unzip –j

How to test if a zip file is corrupted in Linux?

Use “-t” switch with the inbuilt [unzip] command
$> unzip –t

How to check if a file is zipped in Unix?

In order to know the file type of a particular file use the [file] command like below:
$> file file.txt
file.txt: ASCII text
If you want to know the technical MIME type of the file, use “-i” switch.
$>file -i file.txt
file.txt: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
If the file is zipped, following will be the result
$> file –i application/x-zip

How to connect to Oracle database from within shell script?

You will be using the same [sqlplus] command to connect to database that you use normally even outside the shell script. To understand this, let's take an example. In this example, we will connect to database, fire a query and get the output printed from the unix shell. Ok? Here we go –
$>res=`sqlplus -s username/password@database_name <<EOF
select count(*) from dual;
$> echo $res
If you connect to database in this method, the advantage is, you will be able to pass Unix side shell variables value to the database. See below example
$>res=`sqlplus -s username/password@database_name  <<EOF
select count(*) from student_table t where t.last_name=$1;
$> echo $res

How to execute a database stored procedure from Shell script?

$> SqlReturnMsg=`sqlplus -s username/password@database<<EOF
Proc_Your_Procedure(… your-input-parameters …); 
$> echo $SqlReturnMsg

How to check the command line arguments in a UNIX command in Shell Script?

In a bash shell, you can access the command line arguments using $0, $1, $2, … variables, where $0 prints the command name, $1 prints the first input parameter of the command, $2 the second input parameter of the command and so on.

How to fail a shell script programmatically?

Just put an [exit] command in the shell script with return value other than 0. this is because the exit codes of successful Unix programs is zero. So, suppose if you write
exit -1
inside your program, then your program will thrown an error and exit immediately.

How to list down file/folder lists alphabetically?

Normally [ls –lt] command lists down file/folder list sorted by modified time. If you want to list then alphabetically, then you should simply specify: [ls –l]

How to check if the last command was successful in Unix?

To check the status of last executed command in UNIX, you can check the value of an inbuilt bash variable [$?]. See the below example:
$> echo $?

How to check if a file is present in a particular directory in Unix?

Using command, we can do it in many ways. Based on what we have learnt so far, we can make use of [ls] and [$?] command to do this. See below:
$> ls –l file.txt; echo $?
If the file exists, the [ls] command will be successful. Hence [echo $?] will print 0. If the file does not exist, then [ls] command will fail and hence [echo $?] will print 1.

How to check all the running processes in Unix?

The standard command to see this is [ps]. But [ps] only shows you the snapshot of the processes at that instance. If you need to monitor the processes for a certain period of time and need to refresh the results in each interval, consider using the [top] command.
$> ps –ef
If you wish to see the % of memory usage and CPU usage, then consider the below switches
$> ps aux
If you wish to use this command inside some shell script, or if you want to customize the output of [ps] command, you may use “-o” switch like below. By using “-o” switch, you can specify the columns that you want [ps] to print out.
$>ps -e -o stime,user,pid,args,%mem,%cpu

How to tell if my process is running in Unix?

You can list down all the running processes using [ps] command. Then you can “grep” your user name or process name to see if the process is running. See below:
$>ps -e -o stime,user,pid,args,%mem,%cpu | grep "opera"
14:53 opera 29904 sleep 60                     0.0  0.0
14:54 opera 31536 ps -e -o stime,user,pid,arg  0.0  0.0
14:54 opera 31538 grep opera                0.0  0.0

How to get the CPU and Memory details in Linux server?

In Linux based systems, you can easily access the CPU and memory details from the /proc/cpuinfo and /proc/meminfo, like this:
$>cat /proc/meminfo
$>cat /proc/cpuinfo
Just try the above commands in your system to see how it works

Beginners UNIX Interview Questions Answers

1. Write command to list all the links from a directory?
In this UNIX command interview questions interviewer is generally checking whether user knows basic use of "ls" "grep" and regular expression etc
You can write command like:
ls -lrt | grep "^l"

2. Create a read-only file in your home directory?
This is a simple UNIX command interview questions where you need to create a file and change its parameter to read-only by using chmod command you can also change your umask to create read only file.
touch file
chmod 400 file
3. How will you find which operating system your system is running on in UNIX?
By using command "uname -a" in UNIX

4. How will you run a process in background? How will you bring that into foreground and how will you kill that process?
For running a process in background use "&" in command line. For bringing it back in foreground use command "fg jobid" and for getting job id you use command "jobs", for killing that process find PID and use kill -9 PID command. This is indeed a good Unix Command interview questions because many of programmer not familiar with background process in UNIX.

5. How do you know if a remote host is alive or not?
You can check these by using either ping or telnet command in UNIX. This question is most asked in various Unix command Interview because its most basic networking test anybody wants to do it.

6. How do you see command line history in UNIX?
Very useful indeed, use history command along with grep command in unix to find any relevant command you have already executed. Purpose of this Unix Command Interview Questions is probably to check how familiar candidate is from available tools in UNIX operation system.

7. How do you copy file from one host to other?
Many options but you can say by using "scp" command. You can also use rsync command to answer this UNIX interview question or even sftp would be ok.

8. How do you find which process is taking how much CPU?
By using "top" command in UNIX, there could be multiple follow-up UNIX command interview questions based upon response of this because “TOP” command has various interactive options to sort result based upon various parameter.

9. How do you check how much space left in current drive ?
By using "df" command in UNIX. For example "df -h ." will list how full your current drive is. This is part of anyone day to day activity so I think this Unix Interview question will be to check anyone who claims to working in UNIX but not really working on it.

10. What is the difference between Swapping and Paging?
Whole process is moved from the swap device to the main memory for execution. Process size must be less than or equal to the available main memory. It is easier to implementation and overhead to the system. Swapping systems does not handle the memory more flexibly as compared to the paging systems.
Only the required memory pages are moved to main memory from the swap device for execution. Process size does not matter. Gives the concept of the virtual memory. It provides greater flexibility in mapping the virtual address space into the physical memory of the machine. Allows more number of processes to fit in the main memory simultaneously. Allows the greater process size than the available physical memory. Demand paging systems handle the memory more flexibly.

Intermediate UNIX Interview Questions Answers

1. What is difference between ps -ef and ps -auxwww?
This is indeed a good Unix Interview Command Question and I have faced this issue while ago where one culprit process was not visible by execute ps –ef command and we are wondering which process is holding the file.
ps -ef will omit process with very long command line while ps -auxwww will list those process as well.

2. How do you find how many cpu are in your system and there details?
By looking into file /etc/cpuinfo for example you can use below command:
cat /proc/cpuinfo

3. What is difference between HardLink and SoftLink in UNIX?
I have discussed this Unix Command Interview questions  in my blog post difference between Soft link and Hard link in Unix

4. What is Zombie process in UNIX? How do you find Zombie process in UNIX?
When a program forks and the child finishes before the parent, the kernel still keeps some of its information about the child in case the parent might need it - for example, the parent may need to check the child's exit status. To be able to get this information, the parent calls 'wait()'; In the interval between the child terminating and the parent calling 'wait()', the child is said to be a 'zombie' (If you do 'ps', the child will have a 'Z' in its status field to indicate this.)
Zombie : The process is dead but have not been removed from the process table.

5. What is "chmod" command? What do you understand by this line “r-- -w- --x?

6. There is a file some where in your system which contains word "UnixCommandInterviewQuestions” How will find that file in Unix?
By using find command in UNIX for details see here 10 example of using find command in Unix

7. In a file word UNIX is appearing many times? How will you count number?
grep -c "Unix" filename

8. How do you set environment variable which will be accessible form sub shell?
By using export   for example export count=1 will be available on all sub shell.

9. How do you check if a particular process is listening on a particular port on remote host?
By using telnet command for example “telnet hostname port”, if it able to successfully connect then some process is listening on that port. To read more about telnet read networking command in UNIX

10. How do you find whether your system is 32 bit or 64 bit?
Either by using "uname -a" command or by using "arch" command.

Advanced UNIX Questions and Answers

1. How do you find which processes are using a particular file?
By using lsof command in UNIX. It wills list down PID of all the process which is using a particular file.

2. How do you find which remote hosts are connecting to your host on a particular port say 10123?
By using netstat command execute netstat -a | grep "port" and it will list the entire host which is connected to this host on port 10123.

3. What is nohup in UNIX?

4. What is ephemeral port in UNIX?
Ephemeral ports are port used by Operating system for client sockets. There is a specific range on which OS can open any port specified by ephemeral port range.

5. If one process is inserting data into your MySQL database? How will you check how many rows inserted into every second?
Purpose of this Unix Command Interview is asking about "watch" command in UNIX which is repeatedly execute command provided with specified delay.

6. There is a file Unix_Test.txt which contains words Unix, how will you replace all Unix to UNIX?
You can answer this Unix Command Interview question by using SED command in UNIX for example you can execute sed s/Unix/UNIX/g fileName.

7. You have a tab separated file which contains Name, Address and Phone Number, list down all Phone Number without there name and Addresses?
To answer this Unix Command Interview question you can either you AWK or CUT command here. CUT use tab as default separator so you can use
cut -f3 filename.

8. Your application home directory is full? How will you find which directory is taking how much space?
By using disk usage (DU) command in Unix for example du –sh . | grep G  will list down all the directory which has GIGS in Size.

9. How do you find for how many days your Server is up?
By using uptime command in UNIX

10. You have an IP address in your network how will you find hostname and vice versa?
This is a standard UNIX command interview question asked by everybody and I guess everybody knows its answer as well. By using nslookup command in UNIX, you can read more about Convert IP Address to hostname in Unix here.

Difference between the fork() and vfork() system call?
During the fork() system call the Kernel makes a copy of the parent process?s address space and attaches it to the child process.
But the vfork() system call do not makes any copy of the parent?s address space, so it is faster than the fork() system call. The child process as a result of the vfork() system call executes exec() system call. The child process from vfork() system call executes in the parent?s address space (this can overwrite the parent?s data and stack ) which suspends the parent process until the child process exits.

fork: Both the parent and child share all of the page tables until any one of them does a write. Then paging will create private page copy of the dirty page for the purpose of modifying process. This process is done on demand.

vfork - In this system call until child exits or execs, the parent will be suspended. The memory and stack are shared by the child.