python vs awk for simple sysamin tasks

Roy Smith roy at
Thu Jun 3 17:25:10 CEST 2004

Steve Lamb <grey at> wrote:

> > I'm sure you could replicate this functionality in python using things 
> > like os.walk() and os.stat(), but why bother?  The result would be no 
> > better than the quick on-liners you've got above. 
>     Not true.  The above one liners are two passes over the same data.  With
> an appropriate script you could make one pass and get both results.  

You may be right that a python script would be faster.  The shell pipe 
does make two passes over the data, not to mention all the pipe 
overhead, and the binary -> ascii -> binary double conversion.

But does it matter?  Probably not.  Groveling your way through a whole 
file system is pretty inefficient any way you do it.  It's extremely 
rare to find a sysadmin task where this kind of efficiency tweaking 
matters.  As long as the overall process remains O(n), don't sweat it.

> Sure you could do that in shell but I'm of the opinion that anything 
> other than one liners should never be done in shell.

To a certain extent, you're right, but the two examples given really 
were effectively one liners.

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