Abdel Abdel - 2 years ago 375
Bash Question

Unix: How to split a file into equal parts, without breaking individual lines?

I was wondering if it was possible to split a file into equal parts (edit: = all equal except for the last), without breaking the line? Using the split command in Unix, lines may be broken in half. Is there a way to, say, split up a file in 5 equal parts, but have it still only consist of whole lines (it's no problem if one of the files is a little larger or smaller)? I know I could just calculate the number of lines, but I have to do this for a lot of files in a bash script. Many thanks!

Answer Source

If you mean an equal number of lines, split has an option for this:

split --lines=75

If you need to know what that 75 should really be for N equal parts, its:

lines_per_part = int(total_lines + N - 1) / N

where total lines can be obtained with wc -l.

See the following script for an example:


# Configuration stuff


# Work out lines per file.

total_lines=$(wc -l <${fspec})
((lines_per_file = (total_lines + num_files - 1) / num_files))

# Split the actual file, maintaining lines.

split --lines=${lines_per_file} ${fspec} xyzzy.

# Debug information

echo "Total lines     = ${total_lines}"
echo "Lines  per file = ${lines_per_file}"    
wc -l xyzzy.*

This outputs:

Total lines     = 70
Lines  per file = 12
  12 xyzzy.aa
  12 xyzzy.ab
  12 xyzzy.ac
  12 xyzzy.ad
  12 xyzzy.ae
  10 xyzzy.af
  70 total

More recent versions of split allow you to specify a number of CHUNKS with the -n/--number option. You can therefore use something like:

split --number=l/6 ${fspec} xyzzy.

(that's ell-slash-six, meaning lines, not one-slash-six).

That will give you roughly equal files in terms of size, with no mid-line splits.

I mention that last point because it doesn't give you roughly the same number of lines in each file, more the same number of characters.

So, if you have one 20-character line and 19 1-character lines (twenty lines in total) and split to five files, you most likely won't get four lines in every file.

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