Strings are typically delimited by quotes, which raises the problem of dealing with strings that include quotes.

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50
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8answers
12k views

How do I delete a file whose name begins with “-” (hyphen a.k.a. dash or minus)?

How do you remove a file whose filename begins with a dash (hyphen or minus) -? I'm ssh'd into a remote OSX server and I have this file in my directory: tohru:~ $ ls -l total 8 -rw-r--r-- 1 me ...
43
votes
4answers
94k views

How do I grep for multiple patterns?

I want to find all lines in several files that match one of two patterns. I tried to find the patterns I'm looking for by typing grep (foo|bar) *.txt but the shell interprets the | as a pipe and ...
38
votes
2answers
4k views

$VAR vs ${VAR} and to quote or not to quote

I can write VAR=$VAR1 VAR=${VAR1} VAR="$VAR1" VAR="${VAR1}" the end result to me all seems about the same. Why should I write one or the other? are any of these not portable/POSIX?
34
votes
1answer
743 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 ...
30
votes
3answers
7k 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. ...
28
votes
3answers
56k views

What characters do I need to escape when using sed in a sh script?

Take the following script: #!/bin/sh sed 's/(127\.0\.1\.1)\s/\1/' [some file] If I try to run this in sh (dash here), it'll fail because of the parentheses, which need to be escaped. But I don't ...
24
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
22
votes
7answers
17k views

How to add newlines into variables in bash script

When I do str="Hello World\n===========\n" I get the \n printed out too. How can I have newlines then?
21
votes
1answer
5k views

How can I execute `date` inside of a cron tab job?

I want to create a log file for a cron script that has the current hour in the log file name. This is the command I tried to use: 0 * * * * echo hello >> ~/cron-logs/hourly/test`date "+%d"`.log ...
21
votes
4answers
8k 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 ...
20
votes
3answers
10k views

What does it mean to have a $“dollarsign-prefixed string” in a script?

I just saw this in an init script: echo $"Stopping Apache" What is that dollar-sign for? My research so far: I found this in the bash manual: extquote If set, $'string' and ...
20
votes
2answers
768 views

Why escape trivial characters in shell script?

I just opened a legacy shell script (written in old ksh88 on Solaris) and found the following repeated all throughout the code: [ -f $myfile ] && \rm -f $myfile The escaping backslash ...
19
votes
1answer
741 views

Why doesn't 'find' show this file?

Using find with grep, one can locate files that match a pattern: # find | grep error ./solr-modifiedSolr4/SolrPhpClient/phpdocs/errors.html ./error_log ./includes/classes/error_log However, using ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

Quoting within $(command substitution) in Bash

In my Bash environment I use variables containing spaces, and I use these variables within command substitution. Unfortunately I cannot find the answer on SE. What is the correct way to quote my ...
18
votes
4answers
26k views

What does ` (backquote/backtick) mean in bash?

I came across the following command sudo chown `id -u` /somedir And I wonder what is the meaning of the ` symbol. I noticed for instance that while the command above works well the one below does ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

Parenthesis in bash arithmetic: 3 * (2 + 1)

expr does not seem to like parenthesis (used in mathematics to explicit operator priority): expr 3 * (2 + 1) bash: syntax error near unexpected token `(' How to express operator priority in bash?
15
votes
3answers
8k views

Can't use exclamation mark (!) in bash?

I'm trying to use the curl command to access a http url with a exclamation mark (!) in its path. e.g: curl -v "http://example.org/!287s87asdjh2/somepath/someresource" the console replies with bash: ...
14
votes
7answers
889 views

What is the difference between $* and $@?

Consider the following code: foo () { echo $* } bar () { echo $@ } foo 1 2 3 4 bar 1 2 3 4 It outputs: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 I am using Ksh88, but I am interested in other common ...
14
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

Delete all files starting with a question mark

I have a folder in which I have around 4k files. Some of these files start with a a ? or ! character. I need to delete them but can't find an expression that would do so: rm -f ./?* just deletes ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

gnu find and masking the {} for some shells - which?

The man page for gnu find states: -exec command ; [...] The string `{}' is replaced by the current file name being processed everywhere it occurs in the arguments to the command, ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Why can't I do ls *.txt in a subshell?

~$ echo $(ls) arguments.txt cecho.sh Desktop Documents Downloads example.txt Music Pictures Public ~$ echo $(ls "*.txt") ls: cannot access *.txt: No such file or directory Why does the ...
13
votes
2answers
837 views

How can variables use “~” for cd'ing?

How can I use a variable - $BASE in my cd. I tried the following but I get an error $ cd ~/z/repo_1_ruby_193/ 23:23:57 durrantm Castle2012 /home/durrantm/z/repo_1_ruby_193 $ BASE="~/z" 23:24:03 ...
12
votes
0answers
356 views

Should I use $* or $@? [duplicate]

Which one of $* or $@ is better to use (in array syntax,command line parameters, etc.) to avoid any bugs/problems in code? Or it does not make any difference?
11
votes
2answers
6k views

How are parenthesis interpreted at the command line?

While reading up on how to set up grub, one article mentioned that I need to use a syntax like echo \(hd0,0\) >> /boot/grub/grub.conf or echo '(hd0,0)' >> /boot/grub/grub.conf ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

How to assign space-containing values to variables in bash using eval

I want to dynamically assign values to variables using eval. The following dummy example works: var_name="fruit" var_value="orange" eval $(echo $var_name=$var_value) echo $fruit orange However, ...
10
votes
2answers
357 views

What is the difference between “*.pl” and *.pl in grep? Why does quoting change the result?

What is the difference between: grep "string" . -r --include *.pl and grep "string" . -r --include "*.pl" The latter includes files in subdirectoried while the former not. Why?
10
votes
4answers
2k views

How to print “$” in here-document

How can I echo "$" in a here-doc in bash? For example, I want to have a file with the content on remote server like $ABC=home_dir. $ ssh hostname sudo -s <<EOF echo "$ABC=home_dir" > file ...
9
votes
3answers
13k views

Why I can't escape spaces on a bash script?

I'm trying to escape the space char for a path in Bash, but neither using a backslash or quotes works. .sh script: ROOT="/home/hogar/Documents/files/" FILE=${ROOT}"bdd.encrypted" ...
9
votes
5answers
1k views

Why do I need to quote variable for if, but not for echo?

I've read that you need double quotes for expanding variables, e.g. if [ -n "$test" ]; then echo '$test ok'; else echo '$test null'; fi will work as expected, while if [ -n $test ]; then echo ...
9
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the significance of single and double quotes in environment variables?

I defined some environment variables in my .profile like this: MY_HOME="/home/my_user" but the variable does not seem to evaluate unless I strip off the quotes and re-source the file. I believe ...
9
votes
4answers
456 views

Regular expression using \\ vs using \

Why does grep e\\.g\\. <<< "this is an e.g. wow" and grep e\.g\. <<< "this is an e.g. wow" do the same thing? If I add a third slash, it also has the same result. BUT, once I ...
9
votes
2answers
664 views

Are quotes needed for local variable assignment?

Can I safely omit quotes on the right side of a local assignment? function foo { local myvar=${bar} stuff() } I'm mainly interested in bash, but any info on corner cases in other shells are ...
9
votes
3answers
4k views

How to properly escape exclamation points in bash?

Today, I was caught redhanded while attempting to code golf a password generator for Twitter. import string as s,random;print ''.join(random.sample(s.letters+s.digits+s.punctuation,9)) 90 chars. ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

How do you process an entire command as sudo that involves redirecting or piping?

I am trying to follow what I assume is best practises of using sudo instead of root account. I am running a simple concat file operation such as: sudo echo 'clock_hctosys="YES"' >> ...
8
votes
2answers
104 views

How can I conditionally pass a subshell through 'time'?

I have a setup script for a Vagrant box where I used to measure single steps with time. Now I would like to conditionally enable or disable the time measurements. For example, previously a line would ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Wildcards inside quotes

This will be an easy one, but in my memories, when shell scripting, using double quotes would allow expanding globbing and variables. But in the following code: #!/bin/sh echo *.sh echo "*.sh" echo ...
8
votes
3answers
205 views

POSIX compliant way to work with a list of filenames possibly with whitespace

I have seen Bash scripting guides suggesting the use of array for working with filenames containing whitespace. DashAsBinSh however suggests that arrays are not portable so I am looking for a POSIX ...
7
votes
2answers
523 views

Bash string concatenation used to build parameter list

Given this piece of bash: PARMS='-rvu' PARMS+=" --delete --exclude='.git'" echo $PARMS rsync ${PARMS} . ${TARGET} The echo shows the PARMS string as expected, no error is displayed, but rsync ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Number of backslashes needed for escaping regex backslash on the command-line

I recently had trouble with some regex on the command-line, and found that for matching a backslash, different numbers of characters can be used. This number depends on the quoting used for the regex ...
6
votes
3answers
659 views

ImageMagick on multiple files

I have converted a single file from BMP to PNG with ImageMagick's convert using the command below convert CD\ Front.bmp CD\ Front.png I have many such files, thus I tried: for f in */*.bmp ; do ...
6
votes
2answers
409 views

Why does --text=“$@” only pass the first word?

When I run the following script with some arguments like arg1 arg2 arg3: #!/bin/bash zenity --entry --text="$@" zenity creates an entry dialog with this text: "arg1" whereas I expect "arg1 arg2 ...
6
votes
4answers
302 views

what's the difference between using 'single quotes' or not in find command

find ~/ -name *test.txt find ~/ -name '*test.txt' Can anyone help me to construct an example where the first form fails but the second still works. And tell me the difference between them.Thanks!
6
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the difference between echo `date`, echo “`date`”, and echo '`date`'?

What is the difference between these three commands? echo `date` echo "`date`" echo '`date`' I am confused on what the differences actually are. I think that when the ' are around it means that it ...
6
votes
1answer
173 views

Where does this convention for quotation marks (`` …'') come from? [closed]

Frequently I get asked the question: ``K., where does this convention for quotation marks come from? You know, the one with the two grave accents introducing a quoted string and two regular ...
6
votes
2answers
372 views

Bash : command line with optional arguments

I'm running this kind of code: #!/usr/bin/env bash set -u exclude1='--exclude=/path/*' exclude2='--exclude=/path with spaces/*' exclude3='' # any 'exclude' can be empty tar -czf backup.tgz ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

How can I use column to delimit on tabs and not spaces?

I'd like to use Unix column to format some text. I have fields delimited by tabs, but within each field there are also spaces. column delimits on white space (tabs and spaces). How can I make column ...
5
votes
3answers
758 views

What is the difference having double quotes or not in bash [duplicate]

I have some bash scripts, one which has the following content: #!/bin/bash source $(dirname ${BASH_SOURCE[0]})/script.sh while the other one has the following content: #!/bin/bash source ...
5
votes
4answers
12k views

Why is echo ignoring my quote characters?

The echo command isn't including the complete text that I give it. For example, if I do: $ echo ' echo PARAM=` grep $ARG /var/tmp/setfile | awk '{print $2}' ` ' It outputs: echo PARAM=` ...
5
votes
2answers
586 views

Quoted vs unquoted string expansion

for i in $(xrandr); do echo "$i" ; done for i in "$(xrandr)"; do echo "$i"; done for i in "$(xrandr)"; do echo $i; done I understand why 1 differs from 2. But why does 3 give a different output ...