Sep 122010


How to open a Directory or a file starting with a “-“, hyphen

Those of you who have not been in such a situation would never know how it feels when you are stuck opening/deleting a file or directory. The more you have been working on the shell, the more it sucks. When I tried all I could to get it work and still ended up with the same error all the time, I just sat on my chair, staring at the monitor for a while, wondering if this is somekind of bash’s loophole :P.

I was trying to grep through some pidgin facebook chats when I was stuck for a while trying to open a directory with the name starting with a hyphen(“-“). I tried all I could think of, but I always ended with the same error.

[shredder12]$ cd -directory
bash: cd: -d: invalid option
cd: usage: cd [-L|-P] [dir]

[shredder12]$ cd \-directory

[shredder12]$ cd *directory

[shredder12]$ cd "-directory"

As you can see the trouble is that the alphabets after a “-“, hyphen, are being considered as the command attributes/options but they are not, so what we need here is:

a way to tell the command that its not an option or, make the command start with something other than a hyphen.

The first method is to use a double-dash “–” before the name. A double-dash means the end of options to that command.

[shredder12]$ cp -- -directory/

For the other way, we need to start the command with something other than a hyphen and still make sure that its the same file.

[shredder12]$ cp ./-directory
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