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Sort prints the lines of its input or concatenation of all files listed as arguments in sorted order. Sorting is done based on one or more sort keys extracted from each line of input. By default, the entire line is used as sort key. The -r flag will reverse the sort order. There are two types of sorting keys definition in Unix sort:
There is also "old-style" key definition[+pos1 [-pos2]] that are now formally obsolete, but still is extremely widely used. Provide functionality equivalent to the -k keydef option.
pos1 and pos2 each have the form m.n optionally followed by one or more of the flags bdfiMnr. A starting position specified by +m.n is interpreted to mean the n+1st character in the m+1st field. A missing .n means .0, indicating the first character of the m+1st field. If the b flag is in effect n is counted from the first non-blank in the m+1st field; +m.0b refers to the first non-blank character in the m+1st field.
A last position specified by -m.n is interpreted to mean the nth character (including separators) after the last character of the mth field. A missing .n means .0, indicating the last character of the mth field. If the b flag is in effect n is counted from the last leading blank in the m+1st field; -m.1b refers to the first non-blank in the m+1st field.
The fully specified +pos1 -pos2 form with type modifiers T and U:+w.xT -y.zU
is equivalent to:
undefined (z==0 & U contains b & -t is present) -k w+1.x+1T,y.0U (z==0 otherwise) -k w+1.x+1T,y+1.zU (z > 0)
Implementations support at least nine occurrences of the sort keys (the -k option and obsolescent +pos1 and -pos2) which are significant in command line order. If no sort key is specified, a default sort key of the entire line is used.
If the ordering rule options precede the sort key options, they are globally applied to all sort keys. For example,
sort -r +2 -3 infile
reverses the order based on field 3. If the ordering rule options are attached to a sort key option, they override the global ordering options for only that sort key. For example,
sort -r +2d -3d infile
sorts field 3 by dictionary comparison but sorts the rest of the line using reverse comparison.
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