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This deals nicely with filenames containing special characters and can deal with more files than can fit on a commandline. It also avoids spawning du.
There are 6 alternatives - vote for the best!
This example summarize size of all pdf files in /tmp directory and its subdirectories (in bytes).
Replace "/tmp" with directory path of your choice and "\*pdf" or even "-iname \*pdf" with your own pattern to match specific type of files. You can replace also parameter for du to count kilo or megabytes, but because of du rounding the sum will not be correct (especially with lot of small files and megabytes counting).
In some cases you could probably use sth like this:
du -cb `find /tmp -type f -iname \*pdf`|tail -n 1
But be aware that this second command CANNOT count files with spaces in their names and it will cheat you, if there are some files matching the pattern that you don't have rights to read. The first oneliner is resistant to such problems (it will not count sizes of files which you cant read but will give you correct sum of rest of them).
If you can do better, submit your command here.
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