Using awk to remove python2.7

Today I wanted to remove python 2.7, and I didn’t really want to do it manually by doing sudo rm on individual python2.7 file/folder. So instead I used whereis, xargs, and grep to help me. I used the following command 

whereis python | awk 'BEGIN{FS=" "}{for(i=1;i<NF;i++) print $i}' | grep python2.7 |xargs sudo rm -fr

Lets walk this through step by step.

>whereis python

Finds all python files that are in the standard directory, for example in my machine it produced
python2: /usr/bin/python2.7 /usr/bin/python2.6-config /usr/bin/python2.6 /etc/python2.7 /etc/python2.6 /usr/lib/python2.7 /usr/lib/python2.6 /usr/local/bin/python2.7 /usr/local/bin/python2.7-config /usr/local/lib/python2.7

We want to split this line by white spaces; this is where the awk expression comes along.
awk 'BEGIN{FS=" "}{for(i=1;i<NF;i++) print $i}

The above uses awk to split white space delimited strings into seperate lines, the FS is a special awk’s built-in variable that determines the delimited string, in our case it is a space. The NF stands for the total number of elements.
I got the following on my machine.


then with some help of grep and xargs I was able to successfully remove python2.7 from my system with precision.

grep python2.7 |xargs sudo rm -fr

This is only a little taste of awk’s power, it fully supports regular expression and makes command line scripting a breeze.
For example if you wanted to kill all processes that contains the word java, then you can just do

ps ax | grep java| awk '/java/{print $2;}' |xargs kill -9

especially useful for killing multiple java processes that hangs.
I for one have just begin to use awk, and I see it as a essential tool for all scripters in linux environment.


  1. #1 by Allfo on February 27, 2011 - 5:05 am


    Thanks for the info. Not sure but in ps ax | grep java| awk '/java/{print $1;}' |xargs kill -9 would it be {print $2} instead to get the process id?

    • #2 by jekjek1989 on February 28, 2011 - 2:34 pm

      Nice catch! 🙂 I’ll make the changes to my blog post.


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