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I'm writing a bash script that should exit the error code of the last failed command and not continue execution. This can be achieved by adding a || exit $? everywhere, but is there an easier way, e.g. a set option at the start to do this without uglifying every line?

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A side not is that exit $? is not needed. By default, your script will exit with the $? of the last command. exit $? and exit are equivalent in bash. – jordanm Oct 17 '12 at 17:55
@jordanm You mean the $? was superfluous? The exit itself (without set -e as I learned) was necessary. But thanks, good to know for situations where I don't want to abort on all errors. – Tobias Kienzler Oct 17 '12 at 17:58
Yes, I could have been more clear. The $? is superfluous. – jordanm Oct 17 '12 at 19:25

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

set -e ?

set: set [-abefhkmnptuvxBCHP] [-o option-name] [--] [arg ...] Set or unset values of shell options and positional parameters.

Change the value of shell attributes and positional parameters, or
display the names and values of shell variables.

  -a  Mark variables which are modified or created for export.
  -b  Notify of job termination immediately.
  -e  Exit immediately if a command exits with a non-zero status. 


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Instead of the dummy padding you could quote the documentation. – manatwork Oct 17 '12 at 10:09
there you go :) – Chris Card Oct 17 '12 at 10:39
Note that non-zero return codes only cause a set -e script to fail when the return codes aren't tested. The exact meaning of tested isn't easy to specify, but the basic idea is that failingcmd || nonfailing won't make the whole script fail. – dubiousjim Oct 17 '12 at 18:25
Make sure to read about the pitfalls. – l0b0 Oct 18 '12 at 9:44

You might join all the commands with && and use || exit $? at the very end of the block. For example:

ls ~/folder &&
cp -Rp ~/folder ~/new_folder &&
rm ~/folder/file03.txt &&
echo "This will be skipped..." ||
exit $?

if there is no ~/folder/file03.txt file, the last echo command will be skipped. You should receive something like this:

$ ./script.ksh
file01.txt  file02.txt
rm: cannot remove /export/home/kkorzeni/folder/file03.txt: No such file or directory
$ echo $?

Best regards, Krzysztof

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Hey thanks, and welcome to unix.stackexchange! As jordanm mentioned it turns out exit alone will behave the same way as exit $? does – Tobias Kienzler Oct 18 '12 at 5:35

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