How to display data in a human-friendly way on Linux

How to display data in a human-friendly way on Linux

Not everyone thinks in binary or wants to mentally insert commas into large numbers to come to grips with the sizes of their files. So, it’s not surprising that Linux commands have evolved over several decades to incorporate more human-friendly ways of displaying information to its users. In today’s post, we look at some of the options provided by various commands that make digesting data just a little easier.

Why not default to friendly?

If you’re wondering why human-friendliness isn’t the default –- we humans are, after all, the default users of computers — you might be asking yourself, “Why do we have to go out of our way to get command responses that will make sense to everyone?” The answer is primarily that changing the default output of commands would likely interfere with numerous other processes that were built to expect the default responses. Other tools, as well as scripts, that have been developed over the decades might break in some very ugly ways if they were suddenly fed output in a very different format than what they were built to expect.

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