Questions specific to GNU’s Bourne Again SHell, as opposed to other Bourne/POSIX shells. For questions about Unix shells in general, use the /shell tag instead.

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90
votes
3answers
54k views

Why does my shell script choke on whitespace or other special characters?

Or, an introductory guide to robust filename handling and other string passing in shell scripts. I wrote a shell script which works well most of the time. But it chokes on some inputs (e.g. on some ...
38
votes
3answers
8k views

What are the shell's control and redirection operators?

I often see tutorials online that connect various commands with different symbols. For example: command1 | command2 command1 & command2 command1 || command2 command1 && command2 ...
67
votes
4answers
8k views

Is there a “.bashrc” equivalent file read by all shells?

Is ~/.bashrc the only place to specify user specific environment variables, aliases, modifications to PATH variable, etc? I ask because it seems that ~/.bashrc seems to be bash-only, but other ...
83
votes
2answers
3k views

Security implications of forgetting to quote a variable in bash/POSIX shells

If you've been following unix.stackexchange.com for a while, you should hopefully know by now that leaving a variable unquoted in list context (as in echo $var) in Bourne/POSIX shells (zsh being the ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Brackets in if condition: why am I getting syntax errors without whitespace?

I am using the below script to move two days back when script runs at starting two days of the year and also check first and second days of every month and move two days back. if [$month="01"] ...
20
votes
1answer
791 views

How do ${0##*/} and ${0%/*} work?

I'm quite confused about the following regular expressions I found in a shell script: ${0##*/} ${0%/*} How do they work?
169
votes
16answers
130k views

How to do integer & float calculations, in bash or other languages/frameworks?

Using echo "20+5" literally produces the text "20+5". What command can I use to get the numeric sum, 25 in this case? Also, what's the easiest way to do it just using bash for floating point? For ...
242
votes
14answers
31k views

In Bash, when to alias, when to script, and when to write a function?

It's taken me almost 10 years of Linux usage to ask this question. It was all trial and error and random late-night internet surfing. But people shouldn't need 10 years for this. If I were just ...
53
votes
11answers
31k views

Batch renaming files

I have a directory full of images: image0001.png image0002.png image0003.png ... And I would like a one-liner to rename them to (say). 0001.png 0002.png 0003.png ... How do I do this?
270
votes
14answers
84k views

Preserve bash history in multiple terminal windows

I consistently have more than one terminal open. Anywhere from two to ten, doing various bits and bobs. Now let's say I restart and open up another set of terminals. Some remember certain things, some ...
373
votes
8answers
700k views

How to correctly add a path to PATH?

I'm wondering where a new path has to be added to the PATH environment variable. I know this can be accomplished by editing .bashrc (for example), but it's not clear how to do this. This way: export ...
66
votes
10answers
81k views

Looping through files with spaces in the names?

I wrote the following script to diff the outputs of two directores with all the same files in them as such: #!/bin/bash for file in `find . -name "*.csv"` do echo "file = $file"; diff ...
19
votes
1answer
3k views

Why is my bash prompt getting bugged when I browse the history?

Often when I start looking at history of commands some of the characters from a command displayed aren't erased, for example: What's happening: prompt$ some_command prompt$ some_commanother_command ...
44
votes
3answers
16k views

using single or double bracket - bash

I'm confused with using single or double bracket. look at code: dir="/home/mazimi/VirtualBox VMs" if [[ -d ${dir} ]]; then echo "yep" fi It works perfectly although the string contains space. ...
70
votes
5answers
48k views

Using “${a:-b}” for variable assignment in scripts

I have been looking at a few scripts other people wrote (specifically Red Hat), and a lot of their variables are assigned using the following notation VARIABLE1="${VARIABLE1:-some_val}" or some expand ...
107
votes
2answers
18k views

When was the shellshock (CVE-2014-6271/7169) bug introduced, and what is the patch that fully fixes it?

Some context about the bug: CVE-2014-6271 Bash supports exporting not just shell variables, but also shell functions to other bash instances, via the process environment to (indirect) child ...
35
votes
1answer
9k views

When is double-quoting necessary?

The old advice used to be to double-quote any expression involving a $VARIABLE, at least if one wanted it to be interpreted by the shell as one single item, otherwise, any spaces in the content of ...
16
votes
1answer
20k views

How can I make variables “exported” in a bash script stick around?

I have multiple Amazon EC2 accounts and want to quickly be able to switch variables, such as $EC2_HOME, using a script. I have have a shell script set up like this: #!/bin/sh export ...
35
votes
4answers
9k views

Using '.' to execute files in bash

What's the difference between executing a script like this: ./test.sh and executing a script like this: . test.sh? I tried a simple, two-line script to see if I could find if there was a ...
40
votes
5answers
15k views

When would you use an additional file descriptor?

I know you can create a file descriptor and redirect output to it. e.g. exec 3<> /tmp/foo # open fd 3. echo a >&3 # write to it exec 3>&- # close fd 3. But you can do the same ...
10
votes
4answers
53k views

Storing output of command in shell variable [duplicate]

I have an operation using cut that I would like to assign result to a variable var4=echo ztemp.xml |cut -f1 -d '.' I get the error: ztemp.xml is not a command The value of var4 never gets ...
40
votes
4answers
5k views

unix, difference between path starting with '/' and '//'

In unix/linux, any number of consecutive forwardslashes in a path is generally equivalent to a single forwardslash. eg. $ cd /home/shum $ pwd /home/shum $ cd /home//shum $ pwd /home/shum $ cd ...
137
votes
21answers
129k views

How can I get my external IP address in bash?

I need to find my external IP address from a bash script. At the moment I use this function: myip () { lwp-request -o text checkip.dyndns.org | awk '{ print $NF }' } But it depends on ...
51
votes
7answers
11k views

Is there a one-liner that allows me to create a directory and move into it at the same time?

I find myself repeating a lot of: mkdir longtitleproject cd longtitleproject Is there a way of doing it in one line without repeating the directory name? I'm on bash here.
24
votes
4answers
10k views

Quoting in ssh $host $FOO and ssh $host “sudo su user -c $FOO” type constructs

I often end up issuing complex commands over ssh; these commands involve piping to awk or perl one-lines, and as a result contain single quotes and $'s. I have neither been able to figure out a hard ...
21
votes
2answers
81k views

How can I assign the output of a command to a shell variable?

I want to assign the result of an expression to a variable and concatenate it with a string, then echo it. Here's what I've got: #!/bin/bash cd ~/Desktop; thefile= ls -t -U | grep -m 1 "Screen Shot"; ...
43
votes
4answers
8k views

What is the difference between a builtin command and one that is not?

Is there any intrinsic difference between a builtin command and another command which can nominally do the same thing? eg. Do builtins get "special" treatement? ... is there less overhead running ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

How can I use $var in a shell brace expansion of a sequence?

I want to use $var in a shell brace expansion with a range, in bash. Simply putting {$var1..$var2} doesn't work, so I went "lateral"... The following works, but it's a bit kludgey. # remove the ...
4
votes
1answer
531 views

Difference between ' and " on command line (bash)?

I used to use '' and "" interchangeably on the command line, but I recently noticed that '$HOME/some/dir' is not expanded, while "$HOME/some/dir" is. I searched around a little bit and found that "" ...
133
votes
4answers
31k views

How do I clear Bash's cache of paths to executables?

When I execute a program without specifying the full path to the executable, and Bash must search the directories in $PATH to find the binary, it seems that Bash remembers the path in some sort of ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Order of redirections

I don't quite understand how the computer reads this command. cat file1 file2 1> file.txt 2>&1 If I understand, 2>&1 simply redirect Standard Error to Standard Output. By that ...
212
votes
6answers
90k views

What does env x='() { :;}; command' bash do and why is it insecure?

There is apparently a vulnerability (CVE-2014-6271) in bash: Bash specially crafted environment variables code injection attack I am trying to figure out what is happening, but I'm not entirely sure ...
57
votes
6answers
161k views

What is the “eval” command in bash?

What can you do with the eval command? Why is it useful? Is it some kind of a built-in function in bash? There is no man page for it..
47
votes
4answers
5k views

What features are in zsh and missing from bash, or vice versa?

As a Linux user, I've always just used bash because it was the default on every distro I used. People using other Unix systems such as BSD seem to use other shells far more frequently. In the ...
27
votes
4answers
3k views

Quick way to include a directory path when calling mv? [duplicate]

Often I will work out of the root of a rails directory where I find my self navigating the same path twice every time I would like to move a file: mv app/views/layouts/application.html.erb ...
14
votes
1answer
20k views

File descriptors & shell scripting

I am having a very hard time understanding how does one use file descriptors in shell scripts. I know the basics such as exec 5 > /tmp/foo So fd 5 is attached to foo for writing. exec 6 < ...
24
votes
2answers
4k views

Can I get individual man pages for the bash builtin commands? [duplicate]

Is there anywhere you can download a manpage for every builtin commands? I know you can just use help or man bash and search to find info about it, but I want them separated, so I can just do man ...
24
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the difference between [[ $a == z* ]] and [ $a == z* ]?

Is there is any difference between these two. [[ $a == z* ]] and [ $a == z* ] Can I have an example where they would have different outputs? Furthermore, how does the working of [[ ]] differs ...
11
votes
3answers
3k views

Trapping errors in command substitution using “-o errtrace” (ie set -E)

According to this ref manual: -E (also -o errtrace) If set, any trap on ERR is inherited by shell functions, command substitutions, and commands executed in a subshell environment. The ERR ...
20
votes
4answers
32k views

How to escape quotes in shell?

I'm having trouble with escaping characters in bash. I'd like to escape single and double quotes while running a command under a different user. For the purposes of this question let's say I want to ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Bash -c with positional parameters

Usually, $0 in a script is set to the name of the script, or to whatever it was invoked as (including the path). However, if I use bash with the -c option, $0 is set to the first of the arguments ...
70
votes
14answers
38k views

How to grep a specific line _and_ the first line of a file?

Assuming a simple grep such as: $ psa aux | grep someApp 1000 11634 51.2 0.1 32824 9112 pts/1 SN+ 13:24 7:49 someApp This provides much information, but as the first line of the ps ...
69
votes
9answers
4k views

Remember a half-typed command while I check something

I often find myself in the following position: I've started typing a long command at the bash prompt, but half-way through I find out I need to check something with another command. This is a problem ...
27
votes
7answers
7k views

how to glob every hidden file except current and parent directory [duplicate]

I want to glob every hidden file and directory, but not the current (.) and parent directory (..). I am using bash. Observe current behaviour: $ ls -a . .. ...a ...aa ..a ..aa .a .aa .aaa ...
28
votes
2answers
14k views

Output from ls has newlines but displays on a single line. Why?

I think I may be overlooking a relatively fundamental point regarding shell. Output from the ls command by default separates output with newlines, but the shell displays the output on a single line. ...
19
votes
2answers
2k views

What does `:-` mean in a shell script

I saw this in the end of an awesome shell script but I can't understand the login here because I think it's being short-handed for a longer command. spark ${@:-`cat`} This apears at the end of this ...
18
votes
3answers
4k views

Understand “IFS= read -r line”?

I obviously understand that one can add value to internal field separator variable. For example: $ IFS=blah $ echo "$IFS" blah $ I also understand that read -r line will save data from stdin to ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Can I read and write to the same file in Linux without overwriting it? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How can I make iconv replace the input file with the converted output? I frequently connect to amazon ec2 using their public DNS names ...
53
votes
6answers
7k views

Can I configure my shell to print STDERR and STDOUT in different colors?

I want to set my terminal up so stderr is printed in a different color than stdout; maybe red. This would make it easier to tell the two apart. Is there a way to configure this in .bashrc? If not, is ...
48
votes
4answers
49k views

Understanding the exclamation mark (!) in bash

I used history | less to get the lines of previous commands and from the numbers on the left hand side I found the line I wanted repeated (eg. 22) and did !22 at the command prompt and it ...