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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
up vote 10 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

You can define a trap function to capture any error that is occurring in the script.

trap errtrap

function errtrap {
    echo "`date` The script failed with exit status $es " | $log

rest of the script follows.

The TRAP will capture any error at any command and will call the errtrap function. For better usage you can make the errtrap function generic and call that in any script that you are creating.

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Nice, but since you mention ksh, does this also work in bash? – Tobias Kienzler Feb 5 at 9:35
It works for bash as well. – Pratik Mittal Feb 5 at 9:57
I can't test this right now, but in that case +1 and welcome to unix.SE :) – Tobias Kienzler Feb 5 at 10:36

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