Questions about shell scripts, executable files that are interpreted by a shell (bash, zsh, etc.).

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13
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3answers
15k views

Testing if a variable is empty in a shell script

I have seen the following technique used many times on many different shells, to test if a variable is empty: if [ "x$1" = "x" ]; then # Variable is empty fi Are there any advantages on using ...
13
votes
3answers
449 views

When does `ls -s` print “0”

Of course, the standard way of testing if a file is empty is with test -s FILE, but one of our clients have received a script containing tests like this: RETVAL=`ls -s ./log/cr_trig.log | awk '{print ...
13
votes
4answers
2k views

How to make bash abort the execution of a script on syntax error?

To be on safe side, I'd like bash abort the execution of a script if it encounters a syntax error. To my surprise, I can't achieve this. (set -e is not enough.) Example: #!/bin/bash # Do exit on ...
13
votes
2answers
3k views

Rule for invoking subshell in Bash?

I seem to misunderstand the Bash rule for creating a subshell. I thought parentheses always creates a subshell, which runs as its own process. However, this doesn't seem to be the case. In Code ...
12
votes
6answers
10k views

How to compare to floating point number in a shell script

I want to compare two floating point numbers in a shell script. The following code is not working: #!/bin/bash min=12.45 val=10.35 if (( $val < $min )) ; then min=$val fi echo $min
12
votes
6answers
4k views

Best way to follow a log and execute a command when some text appears in the log

I have a server log that outputs a specific line of text into its log file when the server is up. I want to execute a command once the server is up, and hence do something like the following: tail -f ...
12
votes
2answers
642 views

When to use a semi-colon between environment variables and a command

Can anyone explain why the semi-colon is necessary in order for the LANG to be seen as updated by bash? Doesn't work: > LANG=Ja_JP bash -c "echo $LANG" en_US Works: > LANG=Ja_JP ; bash -c ...
12
votes
1answer
795 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

How to safely pass variables to root-enabled scripts?

This question is totally general and not only applicable to my situation, but... I have a small busybox appliance where I want a non-root user to be able to execute a particular script with root ...
12
votes
3answers
17k views

Shell script fails: Syntax error: “(” unexpected

I've been working on a script that automates setting up a development environment for Raspberry Pi development (step by step details that work are here). The script is linked in that article but ...
12
votes
3answers
346 views

When to use redirection to stderr in shell scripts

I know that well-behaved utilities like grep output "normal" messages to stdout, and error messages to stderr. $ grep '^foo' file1 file2 file1:foo grep: file2: No such file or directory When I'm ...
12
votes
0answers
353 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
5answers
2k views

Bash script to get ASCII values for alphabet

How do I get the ASCII value of the alphabet? For example, 97 for a?
11
votes
2answers
957 views

find and remove duplicates in a directory

I have a directory with multiple img files and some of them are identical but they all have different names. I need to remove duplicates but with no external tools only with a bash script. I'm a ...
11
votes
5answers
4k views

How can I use environment variables in my shebang?

I have a Python script that need to be run with a particular python installation. Is there a way to craft a shebang so that it runs with $FOO/bar/MyCustomPython?
11
votes
3answers
374 views

Comparing two strings in Bash

I have the following if block in my bash script: if [ ${PACKAGENAME} -eq kakadu-v6_4-00902C ]; then echo "successfully entered if block!!" fi The script execution is not entering my if block even ...
11
votes
7answers
596 views

Shortest way to extract last 3 characters of base (minus suffix) filename

I'm trying to set a variable in an sh script to the last 3 characters of the base name of a file (by base name I mean without the path and without the suffix). I've succeeded in doing this but, purely ...
11
votes
4answers
14k views

How to delete a file on remote machine via SSH by using a Shell Script?

I am writing a Shell Script where I have to delete a file on a remote machine via a Shell Script. Flow manually: ssh username@domain.com .. then at domain: cd ./some/where rm some_file.war How ...
11
votes
3answers
24k views

How to measure time of program execution and store that inside a variable

In order to find out how long certain operations within a Bash (v4+) script take, I would like to parse the output from the time command "separately" and (ultimately) capture it within a Bash variable ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Variable as command; eval vs bash -c

I was reading a bash script someone made and I noticed that the author doesn't use eval to evaluate a variable as a command The author used bash -c "$1" instead of eval "$1" I assume using eval ...
11
votes
2answers
5k views

find n most frequent words in a file

I want to find, say, 10 most common word in a text file. Firstly, solution should be optimized for keystrokes (in other words - my time). Secondly, for the performance. Here is what I have so far to ...
11
votes
1answer
689 views

How to generate a lot of (blank) images files?

For a test, I need to quickly create 1700 jpg-images (even blank) in a defined size 1000x706. I wonder if we could do this with a shell script or a program (like ImageMagick). I wish they called ...
11
votes
4answers
3k views

Is there a JavaScript shell?

Recently I've been working with JS and I'm very enthusiastic about this language. I know that there is node.js for running JS at server side, but is there a shell that uses JS as a scripting language? ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

How can I get bash to exit on backtick failure in a similar way to pipefail?

So I like to harden my bash scripts wherever I can (and when not able to delegate to a language like Python/Ruby) to ensure errors do not go uncaught. In that vein I have a strict.sh, which contains ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Are free shell accounts safe?

I am trying to identify how safe the free shell accounts provided by the likes of shellmix.com are. I have never used one myself but want to suggest it to someone interested in learning shell ...
11
votes
1answer
708 views

How does a fork bomb work?

WARNING DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RUN THIS ON A PRODUCTION MACHINE In reading the Wikipedia page on the topic I generally follow what's going on with the following code: :(){ :|:& };: excerpt of ...
10
votes
4answers
8k views

Why doesn't “sudo su” in a shell script run the rest of the script as root?

A sample script can be as below: #!/bin/bash sudo su ls /root When using ./test.sh as the normal user, instead run ls as super user and exit, it switches to root; and when I logout, it executes ls ...
10
votes
7answers
1k views

bash: test if $WORD is in set

I am looking for a construct in bash, to decide if a variable $WORD is one of defined words. I need something like this: if "$WORD" in dog cat horse ; then echo yes else echo no fi does ...
10
votes
4answers
574 views

Recursively create directories for all letters

I want to create a directory in such a way that I need to label the directories from a to z. Inside each of these directories, I need to create sub-directories so that they are labelled as aa, ab etc. ...
10
votes
4answers
3k views

Executing user defined function in a find -exec call

I'm on Solaris 10 and I have tested the following with ksh (88), bash (3.00) and zsh (4.2.1). The following code doesn't yield any result: function foo { echo "Hello World" } find somedir -exec ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

How can I receive top-like CPU statistics from the shell?

I'm trying to get an accurate read of my used CPU (in percent) from top. This is the command I'm running for testing: top -n1 | awk '/Cpu\(s\):/ {print $2}' This returns: 10.7%us, Which is the ...
10
votes
2answers
807 views

Simplest way to comment/uncomment certain lines using command line

Is there a way to comment/uncomment a shell/config/ruby script using command line? for example: $ comment 14-18 bla.conf $ uncomment 14-18 bla.conf this would add or remove # sign on bla.conf on ...
10
votes
7answers
827 views

Test if multiple variables are set

I'd like to make sure that at a certain point of a script, after sourceing a configuration file, several variables are set and, if they are not, to stop execution, telling the user about the missing ...
10
votes
1answer
5k views

How can I execute local script on remote machine and include arguments?

I have written a script that runs fine when executed locally: ./sysMole -time Aug 18 18 The arguments "-time", "Aug", "18", and "18" are successfully passed on to the script. Now, this script is ...
10
votes
1answer
3k views

Are there naming conventions for variables in shell scripts?

Most languages have naming conventions for variables, the most common style I see in shell scripts is MY_VARIABLE=foo. Is this the convention or is it only for global variables? What about variables ...
10
votes
4answers
10k views

How can I use bash's if test and find commands together?

I have a directory with crash logs, and I'd like to use a conditional statement in a bash script based on a find command. The log files are stored in this format: /var/log/crashes/app-2012-08-28.log ...
10
votes
3answers
260 views

How do I wait on a program started in another shell

I have a program that does a large a amount of work (takes about 4-5 hours) that gets started by cron when all the data it works with becomes available. Sometimes, when I am waiting for it to finish, ...
10
votes
5answers
7k views

Check if folder is a mounted remote filesystem

What is the best way (reliable, portable, etc.) to check if a given folder is on a mounted remote (nfs) filesystem within a shell script? I am looking for a command that would look like: ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Fastest way to concatenate files

I've got 10k+ files totaling over 20GB that I need to concatenate into one file. Is there a faster way than cat input_file* >> out ? The preferred way would be a bash command, Python is ...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

How to sort the string which combined with string + numeric using bash script?

This is the data what I want to sort. But sort treats the numeric to string, the data it no sorted as I expected. /home/files/profile1 /home/files/profile10 /home/files/profile11 ...
9
votes
4answers
5k views

How to define and load your own shell function in zsh

I am having a hard time defining and running my own shell functions in zsh. I followed the instructions on the official documentation and tried with easy example first, but I failed to get it work. ...
9
votes
1answer
595 views

How do you omit “./” when running scripts on current directory

On some tutorials over the internet they can run a script on the current directory without doing: ./script How do you omit this? I am using CentOS 5.6 x64. I want to run it this way script
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Substituting strings in a very large file

I have a very long series of urls with no separating character, in the same format as below: http://example.comhttp://example.nethttp://example.orghttp://etc... I want each URL to be on a new line. ...
9
votes
2answers
209 views

How does the syntax “${foo##*.}” work to get file extensions? [duplicate]

Why does this command work in successfully retrieving file extension name? file_ext=${filename##*.}
9
votes
3answers
13k views

File extensions for unix shell scripts

On wikipedia, the article for .sh says: For the .sh file extension type, see Bourne shell. How about other unix shells? I know that the shebang is used inside the file to indicate an ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Fix or alternative for mktemp in OS X

I'm looking at a bash script someone else wrote that uses mktemp: TEMP=`mktemp --directory` However, this line does not work on my machine (OS X 10.6). How would I fix this line so that it is ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

How can I delete all files in a folder that haven't been accessed in a certain amount of time?

I'd like to run a nightly cron job that deletes all the files in a folder that haven't been accessed in a week or more. What is the most efficient way to do this in bash?
9
votes
6answers
817 views

Text Manipulation Across multiple lines

I Have a file that has text like this: AAAA BBBB CCCC DDDD 1234 5678 9012 3456 EEEE 7890 etc... And i want to match up the Alphabetic lines with the Numeric lines so they are like this: ...
9
votes
2answers
3k views

Parallelizing a for loop

I want to parallelize the for loops of the following code. How to do this? #!/bin/bash N=$1 n=$2 for (( i=1; i<=$N; i++ )); do min=100000000000000 //set min to some garbage value for (( ...
9
votes
1answer
312 views

communication between multiple processes

I have a bash script, which runs manager() function as a separate process for x-times. How is it possible to forward messages to all manager() processes from within the script? I've read about ...