Created Wed Jun, 02 2021 at 06:00PM

Read original post on stack-overflow

In-place truncation

To truncate the file in-place with sed, you can do the following:

sed -i '50001,$ d' filename

You can make a backup of the file by adding an extension argument to -i, for example, .backup or .bak:

sed -i.backup '50001,$ d' filename

In OS-X or FreeBSD you must provide an argument to -i - so to do this while avoiding making a backup:

sed -i '' '50001,$ d' filename

The long argument name version is as follows, with and without the backup argument:

sed --in-place '50001,$ d' filename
sed --in-place=.backup '50001,$ d' filename

New File

To create a new truncated file, just redirect from head to the new file:

head -n50000 oldfilename > newfilename

It is unfortunate that you cannot redirect into the same file, which is why sed is recommended for in-place truncation.

No sed? Try Python!

This is a bit more typing than sed. Sed is short for "Stream Editor" after all, and that's another reason to use it, it's what the tool is suited for.

This was tested on Linux and Windows with Python 3:

from collections import deque
from itertools import islice

def truncate(filename, lines):
    with open(filename, 'r+') as f:
        blackhole = deque((),0).extend
        file_iterator = iter(f.readline, '')
        blackhole(islice(file_iterator, lines))

To explain the Python:

The blackhole works like /dev/null. It's a bound extend method on a deque with maxlen=0, which is the fastest way to exhaust an iterator in Python (that I'm aware of).

We can't simply loop over the file object because the tell method would be blocked, so we need the iter(f.readline, '') trick.

This function demonstrates the context manager, but it's a bit superfluous since Python would close the file on exiting the function. Usage is simply:

>>> truncate('filename', 50000)