Compare Files in Linux With These Tools

Whether you’re a programmer, creative professional, or someone who just wants to browse the web, there are times when you find yourself finding the differences between files.

There are two main tools that you can use for comparing files in Linux:

  • diff: A command line utility that comes preinstalled on most Linux systems. The diff command has a learning curve.
  • Meld: A GUI tool that you can install to compare files and directories. It is easier to use, especially for desktop users.

But there are several other tools with different features for comparing files. Here, let me mention some useful GUI and CLI tools for checking the differences between files and folders.

Note: The tools aren’t ranked in any particular order. Choose what you find the best for you.

1. Diff command

Compare Files in Linux With These Toolsusing diff command for you to explore.

2. Colordiff command

Compare Files in Linux With These Toolsdiff command utility with enhanced color and highlighting.

Key Features Colordiff:

  • Syntax highlighting with attractive colors.
  • Improved readability over the Diff utility.
  • Licensed under GPL and has digitally signed source code.
  • Customizable

Installation:

Colordiff is available in the default repository of almost every popular Linux distribution and if you’re using any Debian derivative, you can type in the following:

sudo apt install colordiff

3. Wdiff command

Compare Files in Linux With These ToolsWdiff is the CLI front end of the Diff utility, and it has a different approach for comparing files i.e it scans on a word-per-word basis.

It starts by creating two temporary files and will run Diff over them. Finally, it collects the output from you’re met with word differences between two files.

Key Features of Wdiff:

  • Supports multiple languages.
  • Ability to add colorized output by integrating with Colordiff.

Installation:

Wdiff is available in the default repository of Debian derivatives and other distros. For Ubuntu-based distros, use the following command to get it installed:

sudo apt install wdiff

4. Vimdiff command

Compare Files in Linux With These Toolsthe basic commands of Vim if you intend to use this. Furthermore, having an idea of how to use buffers in Vim will be beneficial.

Installation:

To use Vimdiff, you would need to have Vim installed on your system. We also have a tutorial on how to install the latest Vim on Ubuntu.

You can use the command below to get it installed (if you’re not worried about the version you install):

sudo apt install vim

5. Gitdiff command

Compare Files in Linux With These Toolshow to install the latest Git version on Ubuntu.

Or, you can just follow the given command to install Git on your Ubuntu-based distro:

sudo apt install git

6. Kompare

Compare Files in Linux With These Toolssudo apt install kompare

7. Meld

Compare Files in Linux With These Toolshow to compare files using Meld to know more about it.

Key Features of Meld:

  • Supports up to 3-way file comparison.
  • Syntax highlighting.
  • Support for version control systems.
  • Simple text filtering.
  • Minimal and easy-to-understand UI.

Installation:

Meld is popular software and can be found easily on the default repository of almost any Linux distro. And for installation on Ubuntu, you can use this command:

sudo apt install meld

Additional: Sublime Merge (Non-FOSS)

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