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I have along list that created in /var/tmp/file.txt from some script (in Solaris machine) the following list have 4 fields

please advice how to sort the list according to the following TIMESTAMP ( by sort command or other solaris command )

for example the date & time 15-10-2009 08:29:18 should be before 15-10-2009 08:29:10 ... etc

example of file.txt ( not sorted file )

  PHONE_NUMBER         TIMESTAMP                   ID  TYPE
  -------------------- -------------------        ---- -------------- 
  972544111222         15-10-2009 08:29:18         20  sharp_gx10
  33633333333          24-09-2009 16:17:45         20  other_mm_phone
  841990000043         08-10-2009 09:04:38         60  other_mm_phone
  972541230001         08-10-2009 14:23:48         20  other_mm_phone

. . . .

I try the sort command but not clearly why file.txt not sorted

sort -t' ' -k2.7,2.10n -k2.4,2.5n -k2.1,2.2n -k3 /var/tmp/file.txt

we get the output:

  5938123456789141     12-10-2009 13:09:22         20 other_phone
  5511223322332233     07-03-2012 08:13:43         20 other_phone

  888888               10-02-2012 14:13:58         60 LegacyPhone
  111111               10-02-2012 14:13:59         60 LegacyPhone
  777777               10-02-2012 14:13:59         60 LegacyPhone
  999999               16-02-2012 14:07:32         10 other_phone
  87654321             11-10-2009 09:39:37         10 other_phone
share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted
sort -t' ' -k2.7,2.10n -k2.4,2.5n -k2.1,2.2n -k3

If you have control of the original script so you can print the date as YYYY-MM-DD then it would sort naturally so we would not need to pick apart the year, month and date fields in the sort command, but could just use -k2 in the same way we just use -k3 for the timestamp.

Or if I have counted your fixed width format correctly,

sort -k1.28,1.31n -k1.25,1.26n -k1.22,1.23n -k3

Or if you are not using fixed widths and have variable white space, then (-b to ignore spaces but note no -n)

sort -b -k2.7,2.10 -k2.4,2.5 -k2.1,2.2 -k3

Or to sort only part of the file (and really it would be a lot easier simply to alter the program creating this data in the first place):

(head -2 file; /usr/xpg4/bin/tail -n +3 file |sort -b -k2.7,2.10 -k2.4,2.5 -k2.1,2.2 -k3)
share|improve this answer
see my update in my question ( this isnt work well ) – yael Apr 17 '12 at 8:11
The problem is the -t' ' which says use ' ' as the field separator. Clearly you are not using a space. You could simply adjust the values I have given since you seem to have a fixed width format. – ramruma Apr 17 '12 at 8:20
what you mean using? , I type exactly the sort -t' ' -k2.7,2.10n -k2.4,2.5n -k2.1,2.2n -k3 /var/tmp/file.txt ( in my solaris machine ) – yael Apr 17 '12 at 8:24
See update, since you seem to have fixed-width columns. – ramruma Apr 17 '12 at 8:38
ok now its work - just last question if the date and time in the first field - what change need to do in your syntax ? – yael Apr 17 '12 at 8:47

With complex cases like this I tend to create a temporary MySQL database and let that do the sorting or other filtering. Often it's easier to just do something like

CREATE TABLE temp_sort_table(phone_number VARCHAR(16), timestamp DATETIME, id INT, type VARCHAR(16))

or so and then just import the data from the text file to your database:

LOAD DATA INFILE 'file.txt' INTO TABLE temp_sort_table

Then you can easily do things like

SELECT * FROM temp_sort_table ORDER BY timestamp DESC;

Sure, you can pass all kinds of parameters to sort command or apply some awk/Perl/Python voodoo to get all this done without a database. With complex text files it's just easier to use a database, in my opinion.

share|improve this answer
did you have example with sort command - I think its better – yael Apr 17 '12 at 7:32
If you're going to load this into a database, you might as well use an SQLite one. Its a smaller footprint, and it doesn't require all of the security bits arround it. – monksy Feb 8 '13 at 0:00

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