Ubuntu Linux has a great tool called shuf, which works like head except that it gives you ten random lines. I couldn't find it on Homebrew. What is the simplest way of installing it on OS X?

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    It’s part of the gnu text utilities package. Seems to be part of coreutils, but I don’t know how stuff is packaged on homebrew. – jl8e Aug 22 '14 at 16:25

You can install coreutils with brew install coreutils.

shuf will be linked as gshuf. Read the caveats when you install coreutils.

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    The caveat just seems to be that you shouldn't use the tools' proper names, but prefix them with g (like "gshuf"), right? – The Unfun Cat Aug 22 '14 at 16:35
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    Yep, or optionally configure your PATH so you get what you expect. – Jay Thompson Aug 22 '14 at 16:39
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    brew install coreutils installs the utils with the prefix g by default on osx, so you can install it using the above command. – Brad Parks Jun 17 '15 at 13:37
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    Mac OS X Catalina 10.15+, with bash enabled as the shell, does install the shuf command along with gshuf. – rjurney Jan 23 at 19:20

Yet another solution is to learn about the tools supplied by the vendor. Certainly you could chain jot, paste, sort, cut, head and get the same results.

jot -r "$(wc -l FILE)" 1 |
paste - FILE |
sort -n |
cut -f 2- |
head -n 10
  • jot produces a random number from 1 to the number of lines in FILE for each line
  • paste pastes the random number to each line in FILE
  • sort sorts numeric each line
  • cut removes the random number from each line
  • head outputs the first 10 lines
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    I really like the essence of this answer, you never know when you might want to do the same thing on another machine where you aren't able to install extra tools for whatever reason – forquare Aug 7 '15 at 21:02
  • I had never heard about jot before. Thanks for expanding my knowledge. – tommy.carstensen Feb 7 '18 at 11:16

You can install coreutils with Macports as

sudo port install coreutils

This will put GNU core utils in /opt/local/bin with a g prepended

e,g gshuf

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    I used this one with macports, thanks. I don't like Homebrew much – Zorgatone Aug 7 '15 at 10:22
  • Great answer if you have sudo rights. I don't. – tommy.carstensen Feb 7 '18 at 12:48
  • @tommy.carstensen Then ask your admin - they will have made it difficult for you to do this for a reason – user151019 Feb 7 '18 at 14:33

Another option is to install randomize-lines(homebrew) package, which has an rl command which has similar functionality to shuf.

Usage: rl [OPTION]... [FILE]...
Randomize the lines of a file (or stdin).

  -c, --count=N  select N lines from the file
  -r, --reselect lines may be selected multiple times
  -o, --output=FILE
                 send output to file
  -d, --delimiter=DELIM
                 specify line delimiter (one character)
  -0, --null     set line delimiter to null character
                 (useful with find -print0)
  -n, --line-number
                 print line number with output lines
  -q, --quiet, --silent
                 do not output any errors or warnings
  -h, --help     display this help and exit
  -V, --version  output version information and exit
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