Network Administration with AWK

If you are looking for an easy way to access your network services, AWK scripting provides the means.

We have seen that network access through a special device is good enough for many useful applications, but there are advanced features we have to trade off for this convenient access method. Some things are simply not possible within the easy-to-use framework AWK employs, namely:

  • broadcasting

  • non-blocking read

  • timeout

  • forking server processes

In spite of the lack of these advanced features, advanced applications such as a prototype “web server” or a “mobile agent” have been implemented in GNU AWK. If you need, and can handle, features like broadcasting or non-blocking read, you should use Perl or C instead of AWK.


Juergen Kahrs ( has used AWK on MS-DOS for time series analysis, statistical analysis and graphical presentation, mostly of neurological data. In 1996 he switched to Linux and enjoyed seeing his old scripts still running in a more efficient programming environment. He has come to peace with the fact that AWK will never be mainstream and enjoys seeing C programmers spend nights chasing NULL-pointer accesses. Juergen did the initial work for integrating TCP/IP support into gawk.