Linux – empty or truncate files with strange names such as white space etc.

In Linux, it is very common to expect the files in the system to follow certain naming conventions – such as no white space, usually only lower cases, alphanumeric with underscore or dashes. But in some cases, you will find files which don’t follow this convention – the files might have been copied from other OSes such as Microsoft Windows or MacOS. Here is a trick to empty these files without deleting them.

Use the “truncate” command to empty files with non-standard names.

Requirement – empty files with white space in file name. Keep the files, just reduce the size to 0.

# find . -type f -exec ls -l {} \;
-rw-rw-r-- 1 nagios nagios 0 Dec 21 11:21 ./app/\var\log\messages
-rw-rw-r-- 1 nagios nagios 1359 Dec 19 06:26 ./puppet/\var\log\syslog
-rw-rw-r-- 1 nagios nagios 8071 Dec 15 02:30 ./ftp/Microsoft-Windows-EventCollector\Operational

# find . -type f -exec truncate -s 0 {} \;

# find . -type f -exec ls -l {} \;
-rw-rw-r-- 1 nagios nagios 0 Dec 21 11:27 ./app/\var\log\messages
-rw-rw-r-- 1 nagios nagios 0 Dec 21 11:27 ./puppet/\var\log\syslog
-rw-rw-r-- 1 nagios nagios 0 Dec 21 11:27 ./ftp/Microsoft-Windows-EventCollector\Operational

With the command

find . -type f -exec truncate -s 0 {} \;

, we were able to list all files in current directory and empty them.

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