Robert Kiesling


critter - Text search.




Main window controls.

"Enter the text to search for:"

Here you can enter your search text. The text can use any of Perl's regular expression metacharacters (see below for a summary).

"Top search directory:"

This is the top-level directory to search. Defaults to "~" (home directory). Other possible values are: "/" (root file system directory) and "." (current directory).

Start searching. This opens a list window that shows the matched text and the files that contains them. The buttons in the list window (see below) do not take effect until the search has completed.


Display this window.


Exit Critter.

Case sensitive search.

If this option is selected, Critter will match the search text's case as well as the letters; e.g., "perl" would be matched, but not "Perl." If this option is not selected, then entering "perl" would match both of them. (Note that you can still achieve the same effect by entering "[Pp]erl."

Match file name only.

This option performs a match agains the file names but does not search their contents.

Log progress to terminal.

This option tells Critter to print a log of its progress (but not the results of the search) to the terminal window. The text is printed to standard error, so from an xterm you can save the log to a file with a command like "critter 2>critter.log &".

Search executable files.

Also search files that have their executable permission bit(s) selected.

Search gzipped files.

This option tells Critter to uncompress files ending in "gz" before searching them.

Results list controls.

This window contains a list of the text matches of the search pattern and the files that contain them. The control buttons are described below.


Open a window with the full contents of the file. The first match is at the top of the window.


Save the results to a file. Type the name of the file in the dialog box and click "Accept." If a file with that name already exists, then the results of this search are added to the end of the file.


This closes the list window.

Search expression syntax.

The program uses normal Perl syntax for search expressions. For further information, refer to the perlre man page.

These are the Perl metacharacters:

  ^ Beginning of line. (Negation if it starts a character class.
  $ End of line.
  . Any character.      [m-n] One char. of range m-n.
  [ ] Character class.  ( ) Subexpression.
  * Match the preceding expression 0 or more times.
  + Match the preceding expression 1 or more times.
  ? Match the preceding expressiong 0 or 1 time.
  {m,n} Match preceding expression at least m and at most
    m times.  Either m or n may be omitted, but not both.
  $1, $2, etc.  Use the first, second, etc. previous subexpression.
  \ Interpret the next character literally.

Because the program recognizes regular expressions, literal metacharacters in the search expressions must be escaped (i.e., preceded by a slash).


Please refer to the file INSTALL in the distribution archive.

System default settings.

Your system administrator should have installed a file called /usr/local/lib/critter.prefs which is world-readable. In addition, the program creates your own preferences file in your ~/.critter subdirectory. They are text files and can be edited easily by hand.

Written by Robert Allan Kiesling <>

Version 1.5

This program is free software and is copyrighted under the GNU General Public License. Refer to the file COPYING.