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identify RCS keyword strings in files

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pip install pnu-ident



ident — identify RCS keyword strings in files


ident [-q] [--debug] [--help|-?] [-V|--version] [--] [file ...]


The ident utility searches for all instances of the pattern ‘$keyword: text $’ in file(s).

keyword must only be composed of alphanumeric values in the C locale, followed by ‘:’ and a space.

If no arguments are passed, then ident parses the standard input.

The pattern normally requires a colon and a space immediately after the keyword and a space immediately before the terminating $, but for Subversion 1.2 (and later) compatibility, ident will also recognize the pattern ‘$keyword:: text $’ (i.e., two colons and a space) and the pattern ‘$keyword:: text #$’ (likewise, with a hash before the terminating $). These are the fixed-width keyword syntax.

To summarize, the three recognized patterns are:

  • $keyword: text $
  • $keyword:: text $
  • $keyword:: text #$


These options are supported:

Options Use
-q Quiet mode: suppress warnings if no pattern found
--debug Enable debug mode
--help|-? Print usage and a short help message and exit
-V|--version Print version and exit
-- Options processing terminator


The IDENT_DEBUG environment variable can be set to any value to enable debug mode.

The FLAVOUR or IDENT_FLAVOUR environment variables can be set to one of the following values, to implement only the corresponding options and behaviours.

  • bsd | bsd:freebsd : FreeBSD ident(1)
  • gnu | gnu:linux | linux : GNU/Linux ident(1)


The ident utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.


what(1), strings(1)


The ident utility is not a standard UNIX command, though a usual one on Unix-like systems.

This re-implementation tries to follow the PEP 8 style guide for Python code.


Tested OK under Windows.


The ident command appeared with the Revision Control System (RCS) in 1982, and was written by Walter F. Tichy at Purdue University. RCS is now maintained by the GNU Project.

This re-implementation was made for the PNU project.


It is available under the 3-clause BSD license.


Hubert Tournier

This manual page is based on the one written for FreeBSD by Baptiste Daroussin


In the original RCS ident command, option -V printed RCS version number. Our re-implementation prints its own version.

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