Do you want to use
du to sort by size, date or other properties?
du is a low-level Linux/Unix program which allows an user to get a summary of how much disk usage has been used by files and directories. Like any other standard Linux programs, the user can take advantage of many options or flags with
du to modify the program output.
du can also display file sizes and directories in a recursive manner.
This article will show you a few ways to sort files and directories by size, date and other properties using
du command combined with
sort – another standard program in Linux.
du – sort by size
du output isn’t sorted and there is no flags to do that either. To be able to sort
du output, we have to pipe it to another program :
sort does is that it takes lines of text and sort them based on flags and switches passed on to it. Because
du outputs the size in the beginning of the line, we can leverage
--numeric-sort option to have
sort done the job.
The following command sorts
du output by size in descending order.
du /path/to/directory | sort -n -r
-n flag is a shorthand of
--numeric-sort, which tells
sort to sort lines in numerical order. The
-r flag means
-reverse, which reverse the default ascending order of
If you want
du output to be sorted in ascending order, just remove
-r so the command would look like this:
du /path/to/directory | sort -n
du scans all subdirectories and includes them in the output. If you want only the direct children of the path to be scanned, put
du command like below.
du /path/to/directory -d 1 | sort -n OR du /path/to/directory --max-depth=1 | sort -n
-d switch allows you to specify how deep you want
du program to scan.
-d=1 means only the direct children of
/path/to/directory are include in the output.
du – sort by size and get top 10 biggest
Let’s suppose we want to sort
du output by size in descending order, then get only 10 files and directories that eats up the largest amount of space. In order to do that,
head is another standard Linux program that comes in handy.
du /path/to/directory | sort -n -r | head
The command above pipe
du output to
sort, which will have the result sorted in reversed order (descending). After that, the output is then piped into
head, which trim it to the first 10 lines by default.
du – sort by size and get top 10 smallest
If you want to get a list of 10 smallest files and directories, you can use a similar command like the one from above example. The only difference is that we now drop
-r flag to sort the output in ascending order.
du /path/to/directory | sort -n | head
du – sort by size in human-readable numbers
If you want your file size to be human-readable instead of just numbers,
-h switch for that purpose. You just have to put
du command before piping it over to
du /path/to/directory -h | sort -n -r
Or, combine the flags for faster typing :
du /path/to/directory -h | sort -nr
The results should look like the image below
As of GNU coreutils 7.5 released in August 2009, sort allows a
-h parameter, short for
--human-numeric-sort, which allows numeric suffixes of the kind produced by
du -hs * | sort -h
Sort files by time and date
du is made to estimate file space usage and nothing else. To be able to sort files by time/date, we need to use
ls, which lists the files in a path along with information about them.
ls /path/to/directory -lht
ls to list the directory in long listing format, which makes it easier to read.
-h is short for
--human-readable, which prints file and directory sizes in human-readable form (like 1G or 100M).
-t is the most important part of the command, the output will be sorted by time if you use this flag.