Ack Wants To Be The Better Grep

A tiny tool named Ack seeks to supersede the classic Unix command line tool Grep.

Similar to Grep, the small Ack tool searches files for user-provided patterns. In addition, Ack knows some tricks to simplify usage. Ack searches through subdirectories, making the need to combine Grep with helpers such as Find unnecessary. It ignores directories created by Subversion, CVS and other version control systems, as well as backup files left by text editing software.

Additionally, the user may choose to search only certain kinds of files. For instance the "--perl" command-line parameter makes Ack search in Perl source files only. On the results, the search tool applies color syntax highlighting. Ack is written in Perl and runs on Linux, Unix, and Windows. Jokingly, the authors point to the fact that you need to type 25% less due to the shorter command name.

Now they have released version 1.96 of Ack, which supports the Groovy scripting language. More information on Ack is available at