Useful shell aliases

Redo the last command as if I had sudoed

alias please='sudo $(fc -ln -1)'

Use this all the time

(Ubuntu) Install a package I don’t have but tried to use

alias ok='eval $($(fc -ln -1) 2>&1 | sed -n 2p)'

Go back to previous directory


alias back='cd $OLDPWD'

I use this one most of all when copying files to destinations outside of the current directory, especially if the paths involved are pretty long. Sometimes after copying, I may follow the file to the destination just to check what I just did by changing directory to the destination directory. ‘back’ lets me return to where I was before pretty effortlessly. This alias takes advantage of the OLDPWD environment variable.

Free up system memory

alias freemem='echo "echo 1 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches" | sudo sh'

For this example, I started to copy a 4 GB file so that I knew my ram would start to be used up. Here, you can see my memory available on the left is decreasing as I hit enter for purposes of demonstration. (displaying my system memory is done using the PROMPT_COMMAND environment variable). You can see when I use freemem, I get my memory back.

Colorize cat!

alias dog='pygmentize -g'




This works like cat in that it dumps the contents of a file to the screen. It does not concatenate files. But it does read the shebang and print the code with syntax highlighting, if it can. Requires python-pygmentize

Find a file or directory in working dir matching a string.

I use this one a LOT! Ignores case and prints line number.

alias lsg='ls -la| grep -ni'

I have many variants of this one, most notably to do this recursively through directories beneath you: ls -laR | grep -in




If you don’t have pygmentize for my dog alias, make installing it a breeze

(Ubuntu) obviously

alias gimme='sudo apt-get install'