Question on the cut command

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# 1  
Old 08-22-2009
Question on the cut command

Suppose one has a file consisting of more than 2 columns and one has to extract a few columns from this file and swap some columns at the same time. Example: extract column 1, 2 and 4 from a file foo.csv and place them in the order 2, 4 and 1 into file foo.txt. I would be inclined to do this:
cut -f 2,4,1 -d , foo.csv > foo.txt

However, cut does not allow swapping columns in this way and the order of columns is maintained in the output file. I just wanted to get some experts opinions on this, whether this is true for all shells, never implemented or never a requirement?

Thanks in advance
# 2  
Old 08-22-2009
Better use awk...

awk '{print $2,$4,$1}' foo.csv

expecting the delimer is white space or tab. And if that's what u wanted, redirect it to foo.txt
# 3  
Old 08-22-2009
Thank you for your comments, but it is likely we will be using a database in the first instance and swap columns through query-selections. I was just wondering whether the cut command was indeed incapable of swapping columns.
# 4  
Old 08-22-2009
In AIX (for example) if you said

echo 1,2,3,4,5 | cut -d, -f3,1,5

you would get output as 3,1,5

But the cut command in Linux behaves differently.

From the man page:
Selected input is written in the same order that it is read, and is written exactly once.
Which I think is poor. I can't see any way to do what you want with cut.
# 5  
Old 08-22-2009
Thank you for your response. So it seems it was a design decision in one version of UNIX, but not copied over to its siblings.
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