How to use cut command

Cut is the very useful utility in linux specially while doing system admin tasks, and also very useful in scripts.

1. Select Column of Characters

root@justgeek~]# cat test.txt
cat command for file oriented operations.
cp command for copy files or directories.
ls command to list out files and directories with its attributes.

As seen above, the characters a, p, s are the second character from each line of the test.txt file.

2. Select Column of Characters using Range

Range of characters can also be extracted from a file by specifying start and end position delimited with -. The following example extracts first 3 characters of each line from a file called test.txt

root@justgeek~]# cut -c1-3 test.txt

3. Select Column of Characters using either Start or End Position

Either start position or end position can be passed to cut command with -c option.

The following specifies only the start position before the ‘-’. This example extracts from 3rd character to end of each line from test.txt file.

root@justgeek~]# cut -c3- test.txt
t command for file oriented operations.
command for copy files or directories.
command to list out files and directories with its attributes.

The following specifies only the end position after the ‘-’. This example extracts 8 characters from the beginning of each line from test.txt file.

root@justgeek~]# cut -c-8 test.txt
cat comm
cp comma
ls comma

The entire line would get printed when you don’t specify a number before or after the ‘-’ as shown below.

root@justgeek~]# cut -c- test.txt
cat command for file oriented operations.
cp command for copy files or directories.
ls command to list out files and directories with its attributes.

4. Select a Specific Field from a File

Instead of selecting x number of characters, if you like to extract a whole field, you can combine option -f and -d. The option -f specifies which field you want to extract, and the option -d specifies what is the field delimiter that is used in the input file.

The following example displays only first field of each lines from /etc/passwd file using the field delimiter : (colon). In this case, the 1st field is the username. The file

root@justgeek~]# cut -d':' -f1 /etc/passwd

5. Select Multiple Fields from a File

You can also extract more than one fields from a file or stdout. Below example displays username and home directory of users who has the login shell as “/bin/bash”.

root@justgeek~]# grep "/bin/bash" /etc/passwd | cut -d':' -f1,6

To display the range of fields specify start field and end field as shown below. In this example, we are selecting field 1 through 4, 6 and 7

root@justgeek~]# grep "/bin/bash" /etc/passwd | cut -d':' -f1-4,6,7

6. Select Fields Only When a Line Contains the Delimiter

In our /etc/passwd example, if you pass a different delimiter other than : (colon), cut will just display the whole line.

In the following example, we’ve specified the delimiter as | (pipe), and cut command simply displays the whole line, even when it doesn’t find any line that has | (pipe) as delimiter.

root@justgeek~]# grep "/bin/bash" /etc/passwd | cut -d'|' -f1

But, it is possible to filter and display only the lines that contains the specified delimiter using -s option.

The following example doesn’t display any output, as the cut command didn’t find any lines that has | (pipe) as delimiter in the /etc/passwd file.

root@justgeek~]# grep "/bin/bash" /etc/passwd | cut -d'|' -s -f1

7. Select All Fields Except the Specified Fields

In order to complement the selection field list use option –complement.

The following example displays all the fields from /etc/passwd file except field 7

root@justgeek~]# grep "/bin/bash" /etc/passwd | cut -d':' --complement -s -f7

8. Change Output Delimiter for Display

By default the output delimiter is same as input delimiter that we specify in the cut -d option.

To change the output delimiter use the option –output-delimiter as shown below. In this example, the input delimiter is : (colon), but the output delimiter is # (hash).

root@justgeek~]# grep "/bin/bash" /etc/passwd | cut -d':' -s -f1,6,7 --output-delimiter='#'

9. Change Output Delimiter to Newline

In this example, each and every field of the cut command output is displayed in a separate line. We still used –output-delimiter, but the value is $’\n’ which indicates that we should add a newline as the output delimiter.

root@justgeek~]# grep bala /etc/passwd | cut -d':' -f1,6,7 --output-delimiter=$'\n'

10. Combine Cut with Other Unix Command Output

The power of cut command can be realized when you combine it with the stdout of some other Unix command.

Once you master the basic usage of cut command that we’ve explained above, you can wisely use cut command to solve lot of your text manipulation requirements.

The following example indicates how you can extract only useful information from the ps command output. We also showed how we’ve filtered the output of ps command using grep and sed before the final output was given to cut command. Here, we’ve used cut option -d and -f which we’ve explained in the above examples.

root@justgeek~]# $ ps axu | grep python | sed 's/\s\+/ /g' | cut -d' ' -f2,11-
2231 /usr/bin/python /usr/lib/unity-lens-video/unity-lens-video
2311 /usr/bin/python /usr/lib/unity-scope-video-remote/unity-scope-video-remote
2414 /usr/bin/python /usr/lib/ubuntuone-client/ubuntuone-syncdaemon
2463 /usr/bin/python /usr/lib/system-service/system-service-d
3274 grep --color=auto python

Find and replace using SED

There are number of situations where you want to replace a whole line with the new text, in such SED can come to your rescue. Create a test file using with the following content.

this is test IP address

You can replace it with following text.

acl verizonfios src

How to achieve this?

The sed syntax is as follows to match the line starting with “this is” and replace the whole line:


root@justgeek~]# sed -i 's/find/replace/' file


root@justgeek~]# sed -i 's/^this is test IP.*/acl verizonfios src' test.txt

If you have any thoughts on this, then keep coming then in comments.

POODLE SSLv3 Vulnerability

What is the POODLE Vulnerability?

On October 14th, 2014, a vulnerability in version 3 of the SSL encryption protocol was disclosed. This vulnerability, dubbed POODLE (Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption), allows an attacker to read information encrypted with this version of the protocol in plain text using a man-in-the-middle attack.

Although SSLv3 is an older version of the protocol which is mainly obsolete, many pieces of software still fall back on SSLv3 if better encryption options are not available. More importantly, it is possible for an attacker to force SSLv3 connections if it is an available alternative for both participants attempting a connection.

How To Disable SSLv3 to protect your server

Nginx Web Server

To disable SSLv3 in the Nginx web server, you can use the ssl_protocols directive. This will be located in the server or http blocks in your configuration.

For instance, on Ubuntu, you can either add this globally to /etc/nginx/nginx.conf inside of the httpblock, or to each server block in the /etc/nginx/sites-enabled directory.

sudo nano /etc/nginx/nginx.conf

To disable SSLv3, your ssl_protocols directive should be set like this:

ssl_protocols TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2;

cPanel Server

Navigate to WHM » Service Configuration » Apache Configuration » Include Editor » Pre Main Include 


SSLProtocol All -SSLv2 -SSLv3
SSLHonorCipherOrder on

save and then restart the Apache