find missing parameter

Brian Dessent brian@dessent.net
Fri Jun 30 09:50:00 GMT 2006


prz wrote:

> I have a small problem with find command
> whenever I specify the -exec option this error is displayed
> 
> /cygdrive/c/workdir: find  . -name "db*" -mtime +2 -type f -exec /bin/rm {}
> find: missing argument to `-exec'
> 
> tried quotes - single double ... with/without path to rm or any other
> command (ls)
> removing the exec returns the correct file

None of this is Cygwin-specific.

First, -exec is a bad way to do this.  It will have to fork/exec a copy
of rm once for each file to be deleted, which is extraordinarily slow
under Cygwin.  Use xargs instead:

find . -name db\* -mtime +2 -type f -print0 | xargs -0 rm

This will result in rm being called only once with all the filenames to
delete as arguments (unless the total length is too great to fit on one
command line, in which case rm will be called as many times as
necessary, but still much less than once per file.)

If you really want to use -exec even though it's horribly slow, then
re-read the find manpage, as you are missing the trailing semicolon that
tells -exec when the argments end.  This makes it possible to include
further 'find' options after -exec without them being treated as
arguments to -exec, for example: find . -type f -exec cmd {} \; -print

Note that semicolon is a shell special character so you have to quote it
if you want to pass a literal semicolon to find, just as you have to do
with * in -name.

Brian

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