I have binary files that should be text (they're exported logs), but I can't open it with less (it looks ugly - it looks like a binary file). I found that I could open it with vi and I can cat it (you'll see the actual logs), but what I'd really like to do is grep through them (without having to open up each one with vi and then perform a search). Is there a way for me to do that?
You can use
grep anyway to search through the file - it does not really care if the input file is really text or not. From 'man grep':
-a, --text Process a binary file as if it were text; this is equivalent to the --binary-files=text option. --binary-files=TYPE If the first few bytes of a file indicate that the file contains binary data, assume that the file is of type TYPE. By default, TYPE is binary, and grep normally outputs either a one-line message saying that a binary file matches, or no message if there is no match. If TYPE is without-match, grep assumes that a binary file does not match; this is equivalent to the -I option. If TYPE is text, grep processes a binary file as if it were text; this is equivalent to the -a option. Warning: grep --binary-files=text might output binary garbage, which can have nasty side effects if the output is a terminal and if the terminal driver interprets some of it as commands.
Please mark the words of caution at the end of the second paragraph. You might want to redirect the results from grep into a new file and examine this with vi / less.
Starting with Grep 2.21, binary files are treated differently:
When searching binary data, grep now may treat non-text bytes as line terminators. This can boost performance significantly.
So what happens now is that with binary data, all non-text bytes (including newlines) are treated as line terminators. If you want to change this behavior, you can:
--text. This will ensure that only newlines are line terminators
--null-data. This will ensure that only null bytes are line terminators