String variable as part of expression in find command

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# 1  
Linux String variable as part of expression in find command

Hi, I am new in scripting, and I am currently working on a script that will look for other files in a certain directory and exclude some file type.

this works fine:
Find_File2Exclude=`find ${paths[$k]} -maxdepth 1 -type f \( ! -iname '*.out' ! -iname '*.auc' ! -iname '*.cps' ! -iname '*.log' ! -iname '*.dat' \) -printf '%t %p\n' | sort -k 1 -n | head -n 1 | cut -d'/' -f3`
echo "other file searched == $Find_File2Exclude"

but the excluded file to search [eg. *.out, *.dat] change from time to time so I have to change it into a variable. However, if I change my code into this..
exclude=" ! -iname '*.out' ! -iname '*.log' ! -iname '*.cps' ! -iname '*.auc' ! -iname '*.dat'"
Find_File2Exclude=`find ${paths[$k]} -maxdepth 1 -type f \( $exclude \) -printf '%t %p\n' | sort -k 1 -n | head -n 1 | cut -d'/' -f3`
echo "$Find_File2Exclude"

it will give me this error:
find: paths must precede expression
Usage: find [-H] [-L] [-P] [path...] [expression]
I realize that the "! -iname" expression shouldn't be inside the string variable $exclude, but I need to concatenate other file to be exclude in the future, how can I make it work? Or is it still possible?

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by rbatte1; 06-03-2015 at 06:26 AM.. Reason: Changed ICODE tags to be CODE tags
# 2  
Where is the ${paths[]} array being set? Where is $k being set? The error you're getting sounds like ${paths[$k]} could be expanding to an empty string.
# 3  
Hi there Don Cragun, the

is working fine, I have two directories to look up that's why it is in array form and it is from a config file that I have set. I can echo the path and also like I said earlier the first code is working while in the second code which I change the content of
-type f \( ... \)

with a variable, the error occurs even if you change the

with an actual path such as

# 4  
Try to reduce it. What would find . \( $exclude \) yield?
# 5  
Executing commands containing quoted strings produced by command substitution can be tricky. You can easily see the problem if you use set commands to turn tracing on and off around the command substitution in your code:
set -xv
Find_File2Exclude=`find ${paths[$k]} -maxdepth 1 -type f \( $exclude \) -printf '%t %p\n' | sort -k 1 -n | head -n 1 | cut -d'/' -f3`
set +xv

which clearly shows that you end up with double-quoted single-quoted strings for your patterns containing wildcard such as "'*.log'" which causes find to look for filenames containing literal single-quote characters.

If all of the following are true:
  1. All of the elements of the array ${paths[]} are absolute pathnames.
  2. None of the elements of the array ${paths[]} contain any whitespace characters.
  3. You don't mind the script creating an empty directory in your home directory (which the script will use to run the concocted find command pipeline with no chance that unquoted filename patterns containing wildcards with expand to actual filenames).
then the following replacement for your non-working code snippet may work:
[ -d "$HOME/_empty_dir" ] || mkdir "$HOME/_empty_dir" || exit 1
cd "$HOME/_empty_dir"
exclude="out log cps suc dat"
cmd="find ${paths[$k]} -maxdepth 1 -type f $(printf '! -iname *.%s ' $exclude) -printf"
Find_File2Exclude=$($cmd '%t %p\n' | sort -k1,1n | head -n 1 | cut -d'/' -f3)
cd - > /dev/null
rmdir "$HOME/_empty_dir"
printf '%s\n' "$Find_File2Exclude"

Note that I could not test this exact code on my system because the find utility on my system does not recognize the -maxdepth, -iname, and -printf primaries. But, similar constructs have been successfully tested with both bash and ksh.
This User Gave Thanks to Don Cragun For This Post:
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