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B.5 Other Freely Available awk Implementations

It’s kind of fun to put comments like this in your awk code.
      // Do C++ comments work? answer: yes! of course
Michael Brennan

There are a number of other freely available awk implementations. This section briefly describes where to get them:

Unix awk

Brian Kernighan, one of the original designers of Unix awk, has made his implementation of awk freely available. You can retrieve this version via the World Wide Web from his home page. It is available in several archive formats:

Shell archive

Compressed tar file

Zip file

This version requires an ISO C (1990 standard) compiler; the C compiler from GCC (the GNU Compiler Collection) works quite nicely.

See section Common Extensions Summary, for a list of extensions in this awk that are not in POSIX awk.


Michael Brennan wrote an independent implementation of awk, called mawk. It is available under the GPL (see section GNU General Public License), just as gawk is.

The original distribution site for the mawk source code no longer has it. A copy is available at

In 2009, Thomas Dickey took on mawk maintenance. Basic information is available on the project’s web page. The download URL is

Once you have it, gunzip may be used to decompress this file. Installation is similar to gawk’s (see section Compiling and Installing gawk on Unix-like Systems).

See section Common Extensions Summary, for a list of extensions in mawk that are not in POSIX awk.


Written by Andrew Sumner, awka translates awk programs into C, compiles them, and links them with a library of functions that provides the core awk functionality. It also has a number of extensions.

The awk translator is released under the GPL, and the library is under the LGPL.

To get awka, go to

The project seems to be frozen; no new code changes have been made since approximately 2003.


Nelson H.F. Beebe at the University of Utah has modified Brian Kernighan’s awk to provide timing and profiling information. It is different from pgawk (see section Profiling Your awk Programs), in that it uses CPU-based profiling, not line-count profiling. You may find it at either or

Busybox Awk

Busybox is a GPL-licensed program providing small versions of many applications within a single executable. It is aimed at embedded systems. It includes a full implementation of POSIX awk. When building it, be careful not to do ‘make install’ as it will overwrite copies of other applications in your ‘/usr/local/bin’. For more information, see the project’s home page.

The OpenSolaris POSIX awk

The version of awk in ‘/usr/xpg4/bin’ on Solaris is more-or-less POSIX-compliant. It is based on the awk from Mortice Kern Systems for PCs. The source code can be downloaded from the OpenSolaris web site. This author was able to make it compile and work under GNU/Linux with 1–2 hours of work. Making it more generally portable (using GNU Autoconf and/or Automake) would take more work, and this has not been done, at least to our knowledge.


This is an interpreter for awk written in Java. It claims to be a full interpreter, although because it uses Java facilities for I/O and for regexp matching, the language it supports is different from POSIX awk. More information is available on the project’s home page.


This is an embeddable awk interpreter derived from mawk. For more information see


This is an embeddable awk interpreter. For more information see and


This is an independent implementation of awk distributed under the GPL. It has a large number of extensions over standard awk and may not be 100% syntactically compatible with it. See for more information, including the manual and a download link.


XML gawk. This is a fork of the gawk 3.1.6 source base to support processing XML files. It has a number of interesting extensions which should one day be integrated into the main gawk code base. For more information, see the XMLgawk project web site.

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