Enable ** to expand files recursively (>=bash-4.0)

shopt -s globstar
Since bash 4.0, you can use ** to recursively expand to all files in the current directory. This behaviour is disabled by default, this command enables it (you'd best put it in your .profile). See the sample output for clarification. In my opinion this is much better than creating hacks with find and xargs when you want to pass files to an application.
Sample Output
alanceil@kvirasim:17:55:0:/usr/src/linux/Documentation/x86> bash --version | head -n1
GNU bash, version 4.0.17(2)-release (x86_64-pc-linux-gnu)
alanceil@kvirasim:17:55:0:/usr/src/linux/Documentation/x86> shopt -u globstar ; echo **
00-INDEX boot.txt i386 mtrr.txt pat.txt usb-legacy-support.txt x86_64 zero-page.txt
alanceil@kvirasim:17:55:0:/usr/src/linux/Documentation/x86> shopt -s globstar ; echo **
 00-INDEX boot.txt i386 i386/IO-APIC.txt mtrr.txt pat.txt usb-legacy-support.txt x86_64 x86_64/00-INDEX x86_64/boot-options.txt x86_64/cpu-hotplug-spec x86_64/fake-numa-for-cpusets x86_64/kernel-stacks x86_64/machinecheck x86_64/mm.txt x86_64/uefi.txt zero-page.txt

By: Alanceil
2009-05-05 16:02:44

What Others Think

This is a nice feature, and is a nice alternative for find -exec or find|xargs. BUT find & xargs are still necessary when the command line is literally too long (>32K maybe?) and becomes truncated, which using globbing with ** would be more likely to do on directory trees with many files or lists of files with _long_ names. It seems to me that as soon as you find yourself wanting to use ** you may as well use find, because it's easily extensible when you decide to do something more sophisticated and does what you expect. I wish bash had another globbing that specified 'at any depth' rather than the globstar setting because in my just-built bash-4.0, **/*.c matches C files inside a single subdirectory, and when globstar is set, **/*.c matches C files at any level. I guess that's a feature?
bwoodacre · 623 weeks ago

What do you think?

Any thoughts on this command? Does it work on your machine? Can you do the same thing with only 14 characters?

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