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source some_file


doit ()
  echo doit $1
export TEST=true

If I source some_file the function "doit" and the variable TEST are available on the command line. But running this script:


echo $TEST
doit test2

Will return the value of TEST, but will generate an error about the unknown function "doit".

Can I "export" the function, too, or do I have to source some_file in script.sh to use the function there?

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summarizing answers below (enzotib is correct, assuming you can use bash, as the question indicates): change #!/bin/sh to #!/bin/bash and after doit() {...} just export -f doit –  michael_n Jun 11 '13 at 21:08

4 Answers 4

up vote 28 down vote accepted

In bash you can export function definitions to sub-shell with

export -f function_name

For example you can try this simple example:



    myfun() {
        echo "Hello!"

    export -f myfun




Then if you call ./script1 you will see the output Hello!.

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Functions are not exported to subprocesses. This is why there are files named .kshrc or .bashrc: To define functions that shoiuld be available in subshells also.

If running a script, the .*shrc scripts are normally not sourced. You would have to code that explicitly, like in . ~/.kshrc.

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So the ~root/.bashrc could be an option in my case, since the scripts are run as root. Thanks for that hint. –  Nils Oct 17 '11 at 19:06
if using the .*shrc files, be sure they dont force interactive behaviour (like the stupid alias rm=rm -i) –  ktf Oct 18 '11 at 8:50

You cannot export functions, not in the way that you are describing. The shell will only load the ~/.bashrc file on the start of an interactive shell (search for "Invocation" in the bash manpage).

What you can do is create "library" which is loaded when you start the program:

source "$HOME/lib/somefile"

And place your non-interactive functions and settings there.

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So I have to either start the subshell with the "login" parameter (to parse ~/.profile) or source that file. –  Nils Oct 17 '11 at 19:11
Looking a little more closely, on non-interactive shells, you could set BASH_ENV environment variable to some_file you already have, and it would be called. It would be easy enough to find that out: echo echo foobar > /tmp/foobar; BASH_ENV=/tmp/foobar $SHELL -c : –  Arcege Oct 17 '11 at 19:20

well, i'm new in linux, but you can try this:

in some file, let's call it: 'tmp/general' you build your function:

   echo "func from general"

in your shell script add :

. /tmp/general

and run:


you'll get on the screen: "func from general"

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