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

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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 ...
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?
2
votes
3answers
253 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"] ...
159
votes
10answers
17k 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 ...
77
votes
5answers
15k views

Why is it better to use “#!/usr/bin/env NAME” instead of “#!/path/to/NAME” as my shebang?

I notice that some scripts which I have acquired from others have the shebang #!/path/to/NAME while others (using the same tool, NAME) have the shebang #!/usr/bin/env NAME. Both seem to work ...
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 ...
5
votes
3answers
11k views

Storing output of command in shell variable

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 ...
9
votes
1answer
8k 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 < ...
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 ...
6
votes
2answers
8k views

Why is my variable being localized in one 'while read' loop, but not in another seemingly similar loop [duplicate]

Why do I get different values for $x from the snippets below? #!/bin/bash x=1 echo fred>junk ; while read var ; do x=55 ; done <junk echo x=$x # x=55 .. I'd expect this result x=1 cat ...
29
votes
10answers
16k views

Correct locking in shell scripts?

Sometimes you have to make sure that only one instance of a shell script is running at the same time. For example a cron job which is executed via crond that does not provide locking on its own (e.g. ...
9
votes
4answers
6k views

How do I handle switches in a shell script?

Are there some built-in tools that will recognize -x and --xxxx as switches, and not arguments, or do you have to go through all the input variables, test for dashes, and then parse the arguments ...
22
votes
8answers
20k views

Different ways to execute a shell script

There a several ways to execute a script, the ones I know are: /path/to/script # using the path (absolute or relative) . script # using the . (dot) source script # using the `source` command ...
13
votes
10answers
2k views

Detect init system using the shell

This may have more to do with detecting operating systems, but I specifically need the init system currently in use on the system. Fedora 15 now uses systemd, Ubuntu uses Upstart, while others use ...
8
votes
6answers
8k views

Shell script for moving oldest files?

How do I write a script for moving just the 20 oldest files from one folder to another? Is there a way to grab the oldest files in a folder?
24
votes
5answers
15k views

Split pages in pdf

I have a scanned pdf file which has scanned two pages on one virtual page (page in pdf file). The resolution is with good quality. The problem is I have to zoom when reading and drag from left to the ...
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 (( ...
15
votes
3answers
768 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Piping for loop output prevents local variable modification

I'm trying to write a simple bash function that takes, as its arguments, a number of files and/or directories. It should: Fully qualify the filenames. Sort them. Remove duplicates. Print all that ...
5
votes
4answers
12k views

Text between two tags

I wanna retrieve whatever is between these two tags – <tr> </tr> – from an html doc. Now I don't have any specific html requirements that would warrant for an html parser. I just plain ...
13
votes
3answers
5k 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: ...
4
votes
4answers
8k views

Check for Process if Same is Running

Is there a script or a way in linux that when I try to execute a shell script/process, if the same is running, it will prompt that same is running and will exit otherwise it will continue.
18
votes
4answers
7k views

How can I detect if the shell is controlled from SSH?

I want to detect from a shell script (more specifically .zshrc) if it is controlled through SSH. I tried the HOST variable but it's always the name of the computer which is running the shell. Can I ...
20
votes
1answer
3k 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.
10
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
361 views

Stripping directory paths to get file names

What I am doing is converting mp3's with LAME. I already have an old script I wrote that works but I want to add to it this ability--to no longer delete the file but instead save it in a new root ...
14
votes
2answers
922 views

running script with “. ” and with “source ”

I was wondering if the following two ways of running a bash script are equivalent? . ./myScript.sh source myScript.sh Are they both running the content of the script instead of running the script, ...
11
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

In bash, is it possible to use an integer variable in the loop control of a for loop?

I have the following bash script: #!/bin/bash upperlim=10 for i in {0..10} do echo $i done for i in {0..$upperlim} do echo $i done The first for loop (without the variable upperlim in the loop ...
13
votes
5answers
569 views

Stateful bash function

I’d like to implement a function in Bash which increases (and returns) a count with every call. Unfortunately this seems non-trivial since I’m invoking the function inside a subshell and it ...
7
votes
1answer
321 views

Parallel execution of bash script

I have a table URL_Experiment in my database (mySQL database). I have 2 million URL links in this table. For each URL, I am checking if some particular text is present in the URL and updating the ...
16
votes
6answers
14k views

How to get my own IP address and save it to a variable in a shell script?

How can I get my own IP address and save it to a variable in a shell script?
22
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
873 views

keep duplicates out of $PATH on source

I have the following code that's source-d by my .shellrc PATH="${PATH}:${HOME}/perl5/bin" PATH="${PATH}:${HOME}/.bin" export PATH but if I make changes to other code and then source this file, my ...
11
votes
2answers
2k 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
3answers
7k 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
6k views

Is there a way to sum up the size of files listed?

This is the command I am using to list some files: find . -name \*.extract.sys -size +1000000c -exec ls -lrt {} \; -rw-r--r-- 1 qa1wrk15 test 1265190 Sep 29 01:14 ...
26
votes
3answers
1k views

Should I care about unnecessary cats?

A lot of command-line utilities can take their input either from a pipe or as a filename argument. For long shell scripts, I find starting the chain off with a cat makes it more readable, especially ...
6
votes
8answers
6k views

Can shell variable include - character?

I am not able to use - in variables in shell. Is there a way to be able to use it, because I have one script which depends on such named variables: $export a-b=c -bash: export: `a-b=c': not a valid ...
14
votes
3answers
946 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 ...
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?
5
votes
4answers
544 views

Shell, Concatenating 2 strings to reference a 3rd variable

I am trying to do the following in my script: #/bin/bash -x var1=www var2=www2 var3=www3 var4=www4 for i in 1 2 3 4; do echo \$var$i done Obviously, this doesn't work as expected and results in ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Arg list too long error while using find

I have the find command as follows: find /jobs/logs/* -prune -name '*.log' -type f -mtime +1 | while read LOGFILE do echo $LOGFILE done This is failing due to the following ...
4
votes
1answer
682 views

Automatically detect when a file has reached a size limit

I would like to send an email when a file reach a certain size limit. The only way I thought of doing this is by doing a cronjob which will check the file size and send the email if the file is ...
2
votes
2answers
65 views

Merging files by rows

Is it possible to copy the whole rows of File1 in a new File3 following the instruction given by File2 by using a simple bash script using sed or awk? File1: /*two or more columns*/ AC 456324 DC ...
2
votes
1answer
701 views

Bash Script getting stuck during execution

I have a bash script that is reading a CSV file , that contains source IP address , destination IP address and destination port. My script is basically doing 2 tests: 1 Performance 2 Connectivity. ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

Using a reference to a bash string variable in sed

I'm a relative Linux novice. Suppose that I have a text file a.txt that contains the following text: A B C Now, if I want to change the text on line 2 (which contains B), I can use the following ...
2
votes
2answers
249 views

Directories are listed twice

I have something odd. I creates some directories using a very simple script : ... create all directories ( running under a user that has the correct rights ) e.g : mkdir -p ...
0
votes
3answers
134 views

how to generate only one special character in this password generator

I have a command which generates password with multiple special characters. How can I make it to generate only 1 special character? # Generate a random password # $1 = number of characters; defaults ...
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 ...