Sort Directory Contents From the Command Line in Linux

I was trying to make since of some apache error logs and was trying to find latest files. Typically I would just use ls -l (to list all of the files in long format) and find the file that comes closest to matching the estimated time of the error, in this case I'm on a development machine which tend to result in a lot of errors. Since there are several error logs in the /var/logs directory I wanted to sort these by date so I could get see, at a glance, when errors are happening. What I found was the following.

ls -rlt

Running the ls -rlt will return all of the files in a target directory sorted like the reverse chronological order.

-rw-r----- 1 root adm     32435 Dec  1 07:47 ssl_access.log.3.gz
-rw-r----- 1 root adm      1480 Dec  1 07:47 error.log.4.gz
-rw-r----- 1 root adm      5179 Dec  5 18:39 access.log.2.gz
-rw-r----- 1 root adm     17512 Dec  6 17:58 ssl_access.log.2.gz
-rw-r----- 1 root adm       379 Dec  8 09:24 other_vhosts_access.log.3.gz
-rw-r----- 1 root adm      4210 Dec  8 09:24 error.log.3.gz
-rw-r----- 1 root adm    223281 Dec 18 07:42 access.log.1
-rw-r----- 1 root adm  11431859 Dec 18 08:16 ssl_access.log.1
-rw-r----- 1 root adm         0 Dec 18 11:49 ssl_access.log
-rw-r----- 1 root adm         0 Dec 18 11:49 access.log
-rw-r----- 1 root adm       797 Dec 18 11:49 other_vhosts_access.log.2.gz
-rw-r----- 1 root adm     26752 Dec 18 11:49 error.log.2.gz
-rw-r----- 1 root adm       994 Dec 24 08:05 other_vhosts_access.log.1
-rw-r----- 1 root adm      1034 Dec 24 08:05 error.log.1
-rw-r----- 1 root adm      1420 Dec 25 07:40 other_vhosts_access.log
-rw-r----- 1 root adm      1546 Dec 25 07:40 error.log

ls and the -rlt arguments explained.

Usage: ls [OPTION]... [FILE]...
List information about the FILEs (the current directory by default).
Sort entries alphabetically if none of -cftuvSUX nor --sort is specified.

  -l use a long listing format
  -r reverse order while sorting
  -t sort by modification time, newest first


  • ls man pages ls --help from a Linux command line.