grep is always recursive

PleegWat pleegwat at
Sun Jan 25 11:38:22 UTC 2009

Preston Kutzner wrote:
> On Jan 24, 2009, at 9:42 AM, Hal Burgiss wrote:
>> Does anyone know of a setting anywhere in Ubuntu (8.04), that would
>> cause grep to *always* behave as if it were run as 'grep -r'? My home
>> system always greps recursively, which is highly annoying. I cannot
>> find an environment setting or system file to explain this, yet
>> grepping something simple in my home dir, as an example, returns a
>> huge list of files, including files in various subdirectories. It
>> makes no difference whatsoever whether grep is invoked as 'grep' or
>> 'grep -r', the behavior is identical. I have other 8.04 systems that
>> don't do this, so its quite curious to me. What I want is equivalent
>> to:
>>  find -maxdepth 1 -exec grep -H $sometoken {} \;
>> which is what I have to run now, if I am impatient (typically, yes),
>> so as to avoid grepping through gigs of image and music files that
>> live within $HOME subdirs.
> Hal, by any chance does this behavior present itself if you log in as 
> another user?  If you don't have any other users setup on your system, I 
> would suggest adding a new user (temporarily, you can remove it later) 
> and log in as the new user and try running grep and see if it still 
> behaves the same way.  If it does not, it's something specific to your
> normal user account, and would therefore be some sort of environment 
> setting in your $HOME dir.  If it still exhibits the same behavior, it 
> means it's a system-wide environment setting.  At least it will help 
> pin-down where we need to look (/etc, versus most likely one of the 
> "dot" files in your home dir.)

It's not the environment. He checked `env | grep GREP`, the environment 
variable is called GREP_OPTIONS.

You can also type `grep -d skip` to override a -R default in the 


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