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bfs

Version License CI Status Code coverage

Breadth-first search for your files.

[ Features ]  [ Installation ]  [ Usage ]  [ Building ]  [ Hacking ]  [ Changelog ]

Screenshot

bfs is a variant of the UNIX find command that operates breadth-first rather than depth-first. It is otherwise compatible with many versions of find, including

[ POSIX ]  [ GNU ]  [ FreeBSD ]  [ OpenBSD ]  [ NetBSD ]  [ macOS ]

If you're not familiar with find, the GNU find manual provides a good introduction.

Features

bfs operates breadth-first, which typically finds the file(s) you're looking for faster.

Imagine the following directory tree:

haystack
├── deep
│   └── 1
│       └── 2
│           └── 3
│               └── 4
│                   └── ...
└── shallow
    └── needle

find will explore the entire deep directory tree before it ever gets to the shallow one that contains what you're looking for.

$ find haystack
haystack
haystack/deep
haystack/deep/1
haystack/deep/1/2
haystack/deep/1/2/3
haystack/deep/1/2/3/4
...
haystack/shallow
haystack/shallow/needle

On the other hand, bfs lists files from shallowest to deepest, so you never have to wait for it to explore an entire unrelated subtree.

$ bfs haystack
haystack
haystack/deep
haystack/shallow
haystack/deep/1
haystack/shallow/needle
haystack/deep/1/2
haystack/deep/1/2/3
haystack/deep/1/2/3/4
...
bfs tries to be easier to use than find, while remaining compatible.

For example, bfs is less picky about where you put its arguments:

$ bfs -L -name 'needle' haystack
haystack/needle

$ bfs haystack -L -name 'needle'
haystack/needle

$ bfs -L haystack -name 'needle'
haystack/needle
$ find -L -name 'needle' haystack
find: paths must precede expression: haystack

$ find haystack -L -name 'needle'
find: unknown predicate `-L'

$ find -L haystack -name 'needle'
haystack/needle
bfs gives helpful errors and warnings.

For example, bfs will detect and suggest corrections for typos:

$ bfs -nam needle
bfs: error: bfs -nam needle
bfs: error:     ~~~~
bfs: error: Unknown argument; did you mean -name?

bfs also includes a powerful static analysis to help catch mistakes:

$ bfs -print -name 'needle'
bfs: warning: bfs -print -name needle
bfs: warning:            ~~~~~~~~~~~~
bfs: warning: The result of this expression is ignored.
bfs adds some options that make common tasks easier.

For example, the -exclude operator skips over entire subtrees whenever an expression matches. -exclude is both more powerful and easier to use than the standard -prune action; compare

$ bfs -name config -exclude -name .git

to the equivalent

$ find ! \( -name .git -prune \) -name config

As an additional shorthand, -nohidden skips over all hidden files and directories. See the usage documentation for more about the extensions provided by bfs.

Installation

bfs may already be packaged for your operating system.

Alpine Linux
# apk add bfs

Arch Linux
(Available in the AUR)

Debian/Ubuntu
# apt install bfs

Fedora Linux
# dnf install bfs

NixOS
# nix-env -i bfs

Void Linux
# xbps-install -S bfs

FreeBSD
# pkg install bfs

MacPorts
# port install bfs

Homebrew
$ brew install tavianator/tap/bfs
To build bfs from source, you may need to install some dependencies.

The only absolute requirements for building bfs are a C compiler, GNU make, and Bash. These are installed by default on many systems, and easy to install on most others. Refer to your operating system's documentation on building software.

bfs also depends on some system libraries for some of its features. Here's how to install them on some common platforms:

Alpine Linux
# apk add acl{,-dev} attr{,-dev} libcap{,-dev} oniguruma-dev

Arch Linux
# pacman -S acl attr libcap oniguruma

Debian/Ubuntu
# apt install acl libacl1-dev attr libattr1-dev libcap2-bin libcap-dev libonig-dev

Fedora
# dnf install libacl-devel libattr-devel libcap-devel oniguruma-devel

NixOS
# nix-env -i acl attr libcap oniguruma

Void Linux
# xbps-install -S acl-{devel,progs} attr-{devel,progs} libcap-{devel,progs} oniguruma-devel

FreeBSD
# pkg install oniguruma

MacPorts
# port install oniguruma6

Homebrew
$ brew install oniguruma

These dependencies are technically optional, though strongly recommended. See the build documentation for how to disable them.

Once you have the dependencies, you can build bfs.

Download one of the releases or clone the git repo. Then run

$ make

This will build the ./bin/bfs binary. Run the test suite to make sure it works correctly:

$ make check

If you're interested in speed, you may want to build the release version instead:

$ make release

Finally, if you want to install it globally, run

# make install