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if i want to display "aaa" on screen:

(1)$: echo aaa | cat                 ... works OK
(2)$: echo aaa | ( cat )             ... works OK
(3)$: echo aaa | ( cat & )           ... NOT working
(4)$: ( echo aaa & ) | cat           ... works OK 
(5)$: echo aaa | ( cat <&0 & )       ... works ok in BASH (but not in SH)
(6)$: echo aaa | ( cat <&3 & ) 3<&0  ... works ok in BASH and SH

conlusion from (3) and (4) -> detached process still have connected output that can be controlled, used, redirected..., but not input!

My question is: does someone understand why and how line (5) works ???

... "<&0" is short for "0<&0", why redirecting 0 to 0 is solution, and what really happens behind with input of detached process. Subshell's are not the problem, using braces {...} instead of (...) provide same results.

... and question2: is there better solution for "giving input to detached process" than line (6).

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1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Yes, as required by POSIX, commands started in background with & have their standard input redirected from /dev/null.

And indeed

{ cmd <&3 3<&- & } 3<&0

is the most obvious way to work around it.

It's not clear why you'd want to run part of pipeline in background though.

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reason was to get PID of one specific command inside pipe chain ( cmd1 | { cmd2 &; pid2=$!; } | cmd3 ... , so /dev/null==&0 is standard for BG proces, do you also know why "0<&0" works in bash ... and is it safe? – Asain Kujovic Apr 4 '13 at 17:50
@OmerMerdan POSIX says In all cases, explicit redirection of standard input shall override this activity, which contradicts somehow what it said above, so I believe bash interprets it (and that sounds like a reasonable interpretation) as cancelling the /dev/null redirection. Now, not many shells do the same. Ash and pdksh don't. – Stéphane Chazelas Apr 4 '13 at 17:55

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