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

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26
votes
8answers
23k views

Bash script to get ASCII values for alphabet

How do I get the ASCII value of the alphabet? For example, 97 for a?
26
votes
7answers
6k views

What purpose does the colon builtin serve?

I've hacked on a lot of shell scripts, and sometimes the simplest things baffle me. Today I ran across a script that made extensive use of the : (colon) bash builtin. The documenation seems simple ...
26
votes
9answers
2k views

for vs find in Bash

When looping through files there are two ways: use a for-loop: for f in *; do echo "$f" done use find: find * -prune | while read f; do echo "$f" done Assuming these two loops will ...
26
votes
3answers
15k views

If I sudo execute a Bash script file, will all commands inside the Bash script be executed as sudo as well?

I want to write an automated post-installation script in Bash (called post-install.sh, for instance). The script will automatically add and update repositories, install and update packages, edit ...
26
votes
7answers
30k views

how do I trim each line in bash?

I would like to remove all leading and trailing spaces and tabs from each line in an output. Is there a simple tool like trim I could pipe my output into?
25
votes
6answers
21k views

How do I write a retry logic in script to keep retrying to run it upto 5 times?

I want to write logic in shell script which will retry it to run again after 15 sec upto 5 times based on "status code=FAIL" if it fails due to some issue.
25
votes
3answers
84k views

linux + add X days to date and get new virtual date

I have Linux ( RH 5.3) machine I need to add/calculate 10 days plus date so then I will get new date (expiration date)) for example # date Sun Sep 11 07:59:16 IST 2012 So I need to get ...
25
votes
2answers
61k views

Can I redirect output to a log file and background a process at the same time?

Can I redirect output to a log file and background a process at the same time? In other words, can I do something like this? nohup java -jar myProgram.jar 2>$1 > output.log & Or, is that ...
25
votes
9answers
81k views

How to compare two dates in a shell

How to compare two dates in a shell script? For example something like todate=2013-07-18 cond=2013-07-15 if [ $todate -ge $cond ]; then break fi It doesn't work. ...
25
votes
3answers
2k views

Which are the standard commands available in every Linux based distribution?

I would like to know which are the standard commands available in every Linux system. For example if you get a debian/ubuntu/redhat/suse/arch/slackware etc, you will always find there commands like: ...
25
votes
7answers
1k views

Should scripts that require sudo fail if they don't have it, or use sudo and prompt?

I have a script which gives me fine-grained control over my backlight brightness and requires sudo to run. It's essentially this: backlight="/sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/brightness" echo $1 | tee ...
25
votes
3answers
5k views

aliasing cd to pushd - is it a good idea?

Is it a good idea to use the following alias: cd() { pushd $1; } in bash? I think this would be very useful, since I can then use a series of popds instead of just a cd - once. Is there any ...
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 ...
24
votes
5answers
44k 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 ...
24
votes
3answers
89k views

How to rename multiple files in single command or script in Unix? [duplicate]

I have the below list of files aro_tty-mIF-45875564pmo_opt aro_tty-mIF-45875664pmo_opt aro_tty-mIF-45875964pmo_opt aro_tty-mIF-45875514pmo_opt aro_tty-mIF-45875524pmo_opt that I need to rename to ...
24
votes
2answers
1k views

How to merge two text files into one file without using cat or sed? [duplicate]

I have two files File1: a b c File2: 1 2 3 now I need to combine them to one csv file a;1 b;2 c;3 As the files are really huge, I would rather not use cat and sed to process the second file. ...
24
votes
2answers
38k views

How can I tell whether a package is installed via yum in a bash script?

I am trying to write a script that installs packages, but if it fails at any point later in the script rolls back whatever it installed. Of course if the user has already previously installed a ...
23
votes
4answers
74k views

Splitting string by the first occurrence of a delimiter

I have a string in the next format id;some text here with possible ; inside and want to split it to 2 strings by first occurrence of the ;. So, it should be: id and some text here with possible ; ...
23
votes
4answers
20k views

What is the meaning of IFS=$'\n' in bash scripting ?

at the beginning of a shell script program in the bash is the following line: IFS=$'\n' What is the meaning behind this collection of symbols ?
23
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I propagate my SSH pub key to a list of servers without having to type my password in over and over?

I was recently given username/password access to a list of servers and want to propagate my SSH public key to these servers, so that I can login more easily. So that it's clear: There is not any ...
23
votes
6answers
11k 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 ...
23
votes
5answers
48k views

How to introduce timeout for shell scripting?

I want to run a shell script that got a loop in it and it can go for ever which I do not want to happen. So I need to introduce a timeout for the whole script. How can I introduce a timeout for the ...
23
votes
1answer
6k views

Execute bash scripts on entering a directory

What is the best way to execute a script when entering into a directory? When I move into a new directory I would like bash to execute the projectSettings.bash script much like RVM does.
22
votes
11answers
76k views

Show sum of file sizes in directory listing

The Windows dir directory listing command has a line at the end showing the total amount of space taken up by the files listed. For example, dir *.exe shows all the .exe files in the current ...
22
votes
2answers
3k views

What's the point in redirecting output of grep to /dev/null?

Consider this line: ${libdir}/bin/licenseTool check "${SERIAL}" "${VERSION}" "${PRODUCT}" ${libdir} | grep '^200' >/dev/null What's the point of looking for the pattern in the output if the ...
22
votes
2answers
7k views

What is the difference between running “bash script.sh” and “./script.sh”?

If script.sh is just something typical like #!/bin/bash echo "Hello World!" Is there a preferred way to run the script? I think you first have to chmod it so it becomes executable?
22
votes
6answers
49k views

#!/bin/bash - no such file or directory

I've created a bash script but when I try to execute it, I get #!/bin/bash no such file or directory I need to run the command: bash script.sh for it to work. How can I fix this?
22
votes
3answers
10k views

Use & (ampersand) in single line bash loop

I have been using this command successfully, which changes a variable in a config file then executes a Python script within a loop: for((i=114;i<=255;i+=1)); do echo $i > numbers.txt;python ...
22
votes
8answers
9k views

How to efficiently generate large, uniformly distributed, random integers in bash?

I have been wondering what would be the best way to get good randomness in bash, i.e., what would be a procedure to get a random positive integer between MIN and MAX such that The range can be ...
22
votes
1answer
7k views

Can bash case statements cascade?

I'm trying to do something like this: case $level in 3) echo "Level Three" 2) echo "Level Two" 1) echo "Level one" ;; esac where if $level = 3, it ...
22
votes
5answers
17k views

What's the easiest way to find an unused local port?

What's the easiest way to find an unused local port? Currently I'm using something similar to this: port=$RANDOM quit=0 while [ "$quit" -ne 1 ]; do netstat -a | grep $port >> /dev/null if ...
22
votes
1answer
2k views

Is there a standard command that always exits with a failure?

I want to test my script with a command that fails. I could use an existing command with bad arguments. I could also write a simple script that immediately exits with a failure. Both of these are easy ...
21
votes
3answers
15k views

Determining if a file is a hard link or symbolic link?

I'm creating a shell script that would take a filename/path to a file and determine if the file is a symbolic link or a hard link. The only thing is, I don't know how to see if they are a hard link. ...
21
votes
4answers
8k views

Can't indent heredoc to match nesting's indent

If there's a "First World Problems" for scripting, this would be it. I have the following code in a script I'm updating: if [ $diffLines -eq 1 ]; then dateLastChanged=$(stat --format '%y' ...
21
votes
3answers
3k views

Finding the correct tmp dir on multiple platforms

I have a script that needs to create temporary files for its work, and clean up after itself. My question is about finding the right base directory for the temporary files. The script needs to work ...
21
votes
2answers
850 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 ...
20
votes
4answers
25k 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 ...
20
votes
8answers
4k views

What is the utility of the : command in shell scripting, given that it explicitly does nothing?

In the answer to this question about comments in shell scripting, it is indicated that the : is a null command that explicitly does nothing (but is not to be used for comments). What would be the ...
20
votes
4answers
14k 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. ...
20
votes
4answers
37k views

How to read from two input files using while loop

I wanted to know if there is any way of reading from two input files in a nested while loop one line at a time. For example, lets say I have two files FileA and FileB. FileA: [jaypal:~/Temp] cat ...
20
votes
5answers
75k views

Using the not equal operator for string comparison

if [ "$PHONE_TYPE" != "NORTEL" ] || [ "$PHONE_TYPE" != "NEC" ] || [ "$PHONE_TYPE" != "CISCO" ] then echo "Phone type must be nortel,cisco or nec" exit fi The above code did not work for me, so I ...
20
votes
3answers
35k 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 ...
20
votes
2answers
13k views

Do parentheses really put the command in a subshell?

From what I've read, putting a command in parentheses should run it in a subshell, similar to running a script. If this is true, how does it see the variable x if x isn't exported? x=1 Running ...
20
votes
3answers
21k views

How can I remove an element from an array completely?

unset array[0] removes the element but still if I do echo ${array[0]} I get a null value moreover there are other ways of doing this but if an element of an array contains spaces like below ...
20
votes
3answers
13k views

How can one run multiple programs in the background with single command?

How can one run multiple programs in the background with single command? I have tried the commands below, but they do not work. nohup ./script1.sh & && nohup ./script2.sh & -bash: ...
20
votes
7answers
52k 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: ...
19
votes
5answers
21k 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 ...
19
votes
3answers
2k views

Newlines in filenames

I understand and accept the premise that defensive1 shell scripting is both prudent and, in the longer term, more sustainable. Many of the answers to text processing questions here follow this ...
19
votes
6answers
6k views

Portable way to get script's absolute path?

What is a portable way for a (zsh) script to determine its absolute path? On Linux I use something like mypath=$(readlink -f $0) ...but this is not portable. (E.g., readlink on darwin does not ...
19
votes
3answers
6k 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 ...