less Command Display Line Numbers

I‘m a new Linux user. How can I display line numbers using the less command on Linux or Unix-like system using bash/ksh shell?

You can easily display line numbers using less command. All you have to do is pass either -N or --LINE-NUMBERS option to the less command. This option forces less to show a line number at the beginning of each line in the screen.
Tutorial details
Difficulty Easy (rss)
Root privileges No
Requirements None
Time 1m

Display line numbers in less

The basic syntax is:

less -N filename


less --LINE-NUMBERS filename

In this example, show line numbers for /etc/passwd file using GNU/less, type:

less -N /etc/passwd


less --LINE-NUMBERS /etc/passwd

Sample outputs:

Fig. 01: less displaying the line numbers

How do I force less to display line number by default?

The less command can read various options from the environment variable “LESS”. For example, to avoid typing less -N filename each time less is invoked, you might type following on tcsh/csh shell:

setenv LESS "-N"

OR if you use sh/bash/ksh, enter:

LESS="-N"; export LESS

Now, run less as follows:
$ less filename

See less(1) Linux command man page for more information.

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