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A Rose By Any Other Name

The awk language has evolved over the years. Full details are provided in section The Evolution of the awk Language. The language described in this book is often referred to as "new awk."

Because of this, many systems have multiple versions of awk. Some systems have an awk utility that implements the original version of the awk language, and a nawk utility for the new version. Others have an oawk for the "old awk" language, and plain awk for the new one. Still others only have one version, usually the new one.(2)

All in all, this makes it difficult for you to know which version of awk you should run when writing your programs. The best advice we can give here is to check your local documentation. Look for awk, oawk, and nawk, as well as for gawk. Chances are, you will have some version of new awk on your system, and that is what you should use when running your programs. (Of course, if you're reading this book, chances are good that you have gawk!)

Throughout this book, whenever we refer to a language feature that should be available in any complete implementation of POSIX awk, we simply use the term awk. When referring to a feature that is specific to the GNU implementation, we use the term gawk.

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