paste: What I thought join would be

I just showed paste in the last post but I haven’t mentioned it on this site. I probably should have reversed the order here, since paste is one of the last coreutils toys I was holding back from the leftover slurry.

paste does what I thought join should do — concatenate two separate data files, line by line. Again, this is something easier done than said:


That looks almost identical to what join does; here’s where they differ:


paste at least hints that there were omissions in one column or the other. join, on the other hand, skipped over those items, and demanded they be sorted. :\

Of course, seeing paste and join side-by-side makes a lot more sense in why they’re named as they are. join links together corresponding entries according to a sorted order. paste just forces them together, even when something is missing.

I’d still like to see paste insert a tab where the first list is missing a line, but at least now I get the picture.

I handed datamash a small gold star for transposing its output, and paste has a similar function in its -s flag.


So you can run out vertical lists horizontally, if you are so inclined.

I’m quickly running out of coreutils titles, and I do so enjoy learning about them. Perhaps one day I shall start a blog that only steps through that and the util-linux package, and looks at each tool one at a time. … Nah, who’s got time for that? 😕


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