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Linux Sort By Date, List Files In A Directory By Date On A Linux Server

It can be useful on a Linux server to sort all of the files in a directory by date. Sometimes you may want to backup files older than a certain date or you may just want to see what is in a directory and what date those files were created. Use the information below to list all of the files in a directory sorted by date.

Sort All Files In A Directory By Date: Newest To Oldest

[root@dev sysconfig]# ls -lt
total 392
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Dec 13 16:12 network-scripts
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Nov 17 03:38 rhn
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  180 Nov 17 03:38 kernel
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  297 Nov 17 03:38 authconfig
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Nov 16 11:23 console
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Nov 16 11:23 modules
drwxr-xr-x 4 root root 4096 Nov 16 11:23 networking
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 3604 Nov  8 07:42 autofs
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   68 Oct 28 12:39 network
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   17 Oct 19 07:41 firstboot
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1763 Oct 19 07:40 iptables-config
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   79 Oct 19 07:40 system-config-securitylevel
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   42 Oct 19 07:36 clock
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root    0 Oct 19 07:36 desktop
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   25 Oct 19 07:36 grub
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   47 Oct 19 07:36 i18n
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   32 Oct 19 07:36 keyboard
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root   17 Oct 19 07:34 selinux -> ../selinux/config
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Oct 19 07:31 cbq
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1724 Aug  6  2010 nfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   47 Aug  4  2010 udev-stw
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Jul 21  2010 mkinitrd
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Jun 10  2010 pgsql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root   85 May 25  2010 snmpd.options
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root   76 May 25  2010 snmptrapd.options
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2377 Apr 24  2010 cpuspeed
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  168 Apr  4  2010 kudzu
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  610 Apr  2  2010 syslog
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  297 Mar 31  2010 squid
-rw-r----- 1 root root  646 Mar 31  2010 auditd
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  134 Mar 31  2010 lm_sensors
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  391 Mar 30  2010 wpa_supplicant
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  433 Mar 17  2010 saslauthd
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  403 Jan 26  2010 atd
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  512 Jan  5  2010 crond
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  209 Dec 18  2009 ntpd
-rw------- 1 root root 1753 Nov  2  2009 ip6tables-config
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1118 Sep  3  2009 irqbalance
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1068 Jul  4  2009 init
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  634 Jul  4  2009 netconsole
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  153 Jul  4  2009 rawdevices
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  544 Jul  4  2009 readonly-root
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  807 Jan 22  2009 pm-action
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   57 Jan 21  2009 smartmontools
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  232 Jul 14  2008 bluetooth
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   31 Jul 14  2008 dund
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   20 Jul 14  2008 hidd
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   71 Jul 14  2008 pand
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  903 Nov 11  2007 conman
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  376 Mar 14  2007 xinetd
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   58 Jan  6  2007 irda
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1750 Jan  6  2007 tux
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2391 Jan 16  2006 dsm_sa_ipmi
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   16 Feb 24  2005 krb524
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1459 Nov 23  2004 prelink
[root@dev sysconfig]#

Above you can see that the files are listed newest files first. If you need to list the files in the directory with the oldest files first you can simply add the -r switch to sort the files in reverse as shown in the below example.

Sort All Files In A Directory By Date: Oldest To Newest

[root@dev sysconfig]# ls -ltr
total 392
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1459 Nov 23  2004 prelink
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   16 Feb 24  2005 krb524
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2391 Jan 16  2006 dsm_sa_ipmi
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1750 Jan  6  2007 tux
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   58 Jan  6  2007 irda
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  376 Mar 14  2007 xinetd
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  903 Nov 11  2007 conman
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   71 Jul 14  2008 pand
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   20 Jul 14  2008 hidd
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   31 Jul 14  2008 dund
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  232 Jul 14  2008 bluetooth
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   57 Jan 21  2009 smartmontools
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  807 Jan 22  2009 pm-action
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  544 Jul  4  2009 readonly-root
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  153 Jul  4  2009 rawdevices
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  634 Jul  4  2009 netconsole
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1068 Jul  4  2009 init
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1118 Sep  3  2009 irqbalance
-rw------- 1 root root 1753 Nov  2  2009 ip6tables-config
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  209 Dec 18  2009 ntpd
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  512 Jan  5  2010 crond
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  403 Jan 26  2010 atd
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  433 Mar 17  2010 saslauthd
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  391 Mar 30  2010 wpa_supplicant
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  134 Mar 31  2010 lm_sensors
-rw-r----- 1 root root  646 Mar 31  2010 auditd
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  297 Mar 31  2010 squid
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  610 Apr  2  2010 syslog
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  168 Apr  4  2010 kudzu
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2377 Apr 24  2010 cpuspeed
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root   76 May 25  2010 snmptrapd.options
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root   85 May 25  2010 snmpd.options
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Jun 10  2010 pgsql
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Jul 21  2010 mkinitrd
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   47 Aug  4  2010 udev-stw
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1724 Aug  6  2010 nfs
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Oct 19 07:31 cbq
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root   17 Oct 19 07:34 selinux -> ../selinux/config
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   32 Oct 19 07:36 keyboard
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   47 Oct 19 07:36 i18n
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   25 Oct 19 07:36 grub
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root    0 Oct 19 07:36 desktop
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   42 Oct 19 07:36 clock
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   79 Oct 19 07:40 system-config-securitylevel
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1763 Oct 19 07:40 iptables-config
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   17 Oct 19 07:41 firstboot
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   68 Oct 28 12:39 network
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 3604 Nov  8 07:42 autofs
drwxr-xr-x 4 root root 4096 Nov 16 11:23 networking
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Nov 16 11:23 modules
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Nov 16 11:23 console
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  297 Nov 17 03:38 authconfig
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  180 Nov 17 03:38 kernel
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Nov 17 03:38 rhn
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Dec 13 16:12 network-scripts
[root@dev sysconfig]#

To read more about the switches you can use with the Linux ls command read the man page by typing “man ls” from a shell or by clicking here to see the ls man page version on Question Defense.

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