The shell is unix's command-line interface. You can type commands in a shell interactively, or write scripts to automate tasks. Use this tag for questions applying to /bin/sh and most compatible shells (ash, bash, ksh, zsh, …).

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30
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6answers
3k views

When do you use brace expansion?

I understand what brace expansion is, but I don't know how best to use it. When do you use it? Please teach me some convenient and remarkable examples if you have your own tip.
31
votes
12answers
2k views

How to quickly store and access often used commands?

I have a lot of commands I routinely need to execute, often with the slightest variation. Right now I'm storing them all in .bash_history and use CTRL-R to access them, but I wonder if there's a ...
94
votes
3answers
10k views

Why is “echo” so much faster than “touch”?

I'm trying to update the timestamp to the current time on all of the xml files in my directory (recursively). I'm using Mac OSX 10.8.5. On about 300,000 files, the following echo command takes 10 ...
29
votes
1answer
1k views

Avoiding “BASH-isms” in shell scripts

Does there exist a tool similar to Perl::Critic that will inspect your shell scripts and point out flaws, portability issues, uses of non-standard programs without fallbacks, depreciated program uses, ...
61
votes
4answers
13k views

What is the difference between “&&” and “;” when chaining commands

What is the difference between the following methods of chaining commands? cmd1; cmd2 cmd1 && cmd2
42
votes
5answers
20k views

How to go to the previous working directory in terminal?

In terminal, how can I define a key to go to the previous directory which I was in when changing directory with the cd command? For example, I'm in /opt/soft/bin and I cd into /etc/squid3 and I want ...
39
votes
3answers
2k views

How do I open an incognito bash session?

Is it possible to open an incognito session in bash? For example, when we need to enter passwords in commands and don't want bash to add them to history.
39
votes
8answers
61k views

How can I get the size of a file in a bash script?

How can I get the size of a file in a bash script? How do I assign this to a bash variable so I can use it later?
11
votes
2answers
7k views

How can you log every command typed

How can you log every command someone has entered into the shell? I'm asking on both the basis of protecting yourself if you are logged into someone else's server and something breaks, or if someone ...
32
votes
5answers
12k views

Does /usr/sbin/nologin as a login shell serve a security purpose?

In my /etc/passwd file, I can see that the www-data user used by Apache, as well as all sorts of system users, have either /usr/sbin/nologin or /bin/false as their login shell. For example, here is a ...
23
votes
3answers
1k 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: ...
29
votes
2answers
3k views

How does `cat <> file` work?

cat < file prints the contents of file to stdout. cat > file reads stdin until Ctrl+D is detected and the input text is written to file. cat <> file, at least in my version of Bash, ...
26
votes
2answers
6k views

How can I test for POSIX compliance for shell scripts?

Probably the main thing that this website has taught me so far is the importance of writing portable shell scripts. Considering that POSIX is the closest thing to a common standard between all ...
40
votes
7answers
47k views

How do I convert an epoch timestamp to a human readable format on the cli?

How do I convert an epoch timestamp to a human readable format on the cli? I think there's a way to do it with date but the syntax eludes me (other ways welcome).
17
votes
2answers
5k views

Is there an easy way to programmatically extract IP address?

Is there an easy way to programmatically extract IP address, without tedious parsing of ifconfig? I would not mind simple command output processing using sed to do it but not processing multiline ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Best practice to use $? in bash?

When I read this answer about $? another question comes to mind. Is there any best practice for how to use $? in bash? Let's have a example: We have a linear script and I we would like to know ...
26
votes
6answers
12k views

determining path to sourced shell script

Is there a way for a sourced shell script to find out the path to itself? I'm mainly concerned with bash, though I have some coworkers who use tcsh. I'm guessing I may not have a ton of luck here, ...
23
votes
6answers
69k views

Is there a way to see details of all the threads that a process has in Linux?

For Windows, I think Process Explorer shows you all the threads under a process. Is there a similar command line utility for Linux that can show me details about all the threads a particular process ...
19
votes
4answers
6k views

Why do I have to re-set env vars in tmux when I re-attach?

I mainly work on a mac and ssh/tmux attach to a Linux machine to do my work. I have ssh-agent running on the Linux machine. I have set -g update-environment "SSH_AUTH_SOCK SSH_ASKPASS WINDOWID ...
19
votes
6answers
1k views

How could I remember how to use redirection?

I know what program > /dev/null 2>&1 does. It redirects the output to /dev/null and 2>&1 means to redirect the error output in the same place where the output is sent. My ...
15
votes
1answer
3k views

GNU parallel vs & (I mean background) vs xargs -P

I'm confused about the difference or advantage (if any) of running a set of tasks in a .sh script using GNU parallel E.g. Ole Tange's answer: parallel ./pngout -s0 {} R{} ::: *.png rather than say ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

How to do a continous 'wc -l' with gnu texttools?

I know of course that cat logfile.txt | wc -l 120 will tell me the number of lines in a file. Whereas tail -f logfile.txt will show me the new lines that another program writes to logfile.txt. ...
14
votes
5answers
7k views

Shell Script mktemp, what's the best method to create temporary named pipe?

I'm aware its best to create temporary files with mktemp, but what about named pipes? I have an idea, I'm sure it would work, but I would really like an expert opinion. I prefer things to be as ...
39
votes
4answers
1k views

What exactly is an environment variable?

I know that VARIABLE=value creates an environment variable, and export VARIABLE=value makes it available to processes created by the current shell. env shows the current environment variables, but ...
28
votes
4answers
36k views

Usage of dash (-) in place of a filename

For a command, if using - as an argument in place of a file name will mean STDIN or STDOUT. But in this example, it creates a file with the name -: echo hello > - How can I make - in this ...
27
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “${-#*i}” != “$-” mean?

In /etc/profile I see this: for i in /etc/profile.d/*.sh ; do if [ -r "$i" ]; then if [ "${-#*i}" != "$-" ]; then . "$i" else . "$i" >/dev/null 2>&1 ...
20
votes
5answers
11k 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?
18
votes
4answers
9k views

Save complete GNU screen session state

Is it possible to persist the "state" of a GNU screen window (or just a standard shell) so that I can reload everything after a reboot: The number of opened shells The name of each shell The current ...
15
votes
3answers
4k 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' ...
14
votes
3answers
25k views

how to output text to both screen and file inside a shell script?

Currently I have a shell script which logs messages to a log file like this: log_file="/some/dir/log_file.log" echo "some text" >> $log_file do_some_command echo "more text" >> $log_file ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there a difference between `;` and `&&` and `|`? [duplicate]

When you want to run multiple commands you can use ;, && and | Like this: killall Finder; killall SystemUIServer, cd ~/Desktop/ && rm Caches Or: man grep | man cat for example. But, ...
25
votes
3answers
2k views

Multicolored Grep

I'm trying to get each grep command to highlight it's results in a different color. I can do it manually with a line like this: ls -l GREP_COLORS='mt=01;32' grep c | GREP_COLORS='mt=01;31' grep o | ...
21
votes
6answers
33k views

How can I test if a variable is empty or contains only spaces?

The following bash syntax verifies if param isn't empty: [[ ! -z $param ]] For example: param="" [[ ! -z $param ]] && echo "I am not zero" No output and its fine. But when param ...
20
votes
7answers
4k views

find searching in parent directories instead of subdirectories

I'm nested deep in a file tree, and I'd like to find which parent directory contains a file. E.g. I'm in a set of nested Git repositories and want to find the .git directory controlling the files I'm ...
19
votes
3answers
3k views

What does “rm is hashed” mean?

I'm going through http://mywiki.wooledge.org/BashGuide/CommandsAndArguments and came across this: $ type rm rm is hashed (/bin/rm) $ type cd cd is a shell builtin Just a little earlier, the guide ...
19
votes
3answers
41k views

How do I switch from an unknown shell to bash?

I was surprised that I didn't find this question already on the site. So, today $ came up after I logged in as a new user. This was unexpected because my main user's prompt starts with ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

What happens when we type a simple command on shell? [duplicate]

I have a simple doubt on execution of a simple command. As per my understanding, when we type a command such as ls on interactive shell, Shell interpretes the command. Shell creates a child process ...
12
votes
1answer
972 views

Can I restrict a user to use special programs?

Is it possible to add a user and restrict him to run special programs? For example after this user logs in, he can only open Firefox to use Internet and no other programs can be run by this user. For ...
11
votes
3answers
7k views

Can files be created with permissions set on the command line?

When creating directories, mkdir -m <mode> <dir> provides for creating one or more directories with the given mode/permissions set (atomically). Is there an equivalent for creating files, ...
6
votes
2answers
569 views

Expansion of a shell variable and effect of glob and split on it

This post actually contains two separate questions but I think grouping them together will give some more context. I have gone through this question on quotes around variables but I do not quite ...
19
votes
3answers
1k views

Is it safe to type another command into STDIN while the previous command is writing to STDOUT?

Perhaps this has been answered previously, I would welcome a link to another answer... If I execute a shell command (in a bash shell) like the following: make Then while the output from make is ...
19
votes
3answers
7k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
24k views

Confusing use of && and || operators

I was skimming through an /etc/rc.d/init.d/sendmail file (I know this is hardly ever used, but I'm studying for an exam), and I've become a bit confused about the && and the || operators. ...
14
votes
2answers
13k views

/dev/tcp listen instead of nc listen

With a netcat listener like: nc -l <port> < ~/.bashrc I can grab my .bashrc on a new machine (doesn't have nc or LDAP) with: cat < /dev/tcp/<ip>/<port> > ~/.bashrc My ...
13
votes
3answers
8k views

Arrays in Unix Bourne Shell

I am trying to use arrays in Bourne shell (/bin/sh). I found that the way to initialize array elements is: arr=(1 2 3) But it is encountering an error: syntax error at line 8: `arr=' unexpected ...
13
votes
3answers
7k views

How to “send” variable to sub-shell?

I run the following script: VAR="Test" sh -c 'echo "Hello $VAR"' But I get : # ./test.sh Hello How can I "send" the variable VAR of my script to the shell created with sh -c?
8
votes
5answers
17k views

How to pass the output of one command as the command-line argument to another?

So I have a script that, when I give it two addresses, will search two HTML links: echo http://maps.google.be/maps?saddr\=$1\&daddr\=$2 | sed 's/ /%/g' I want to send this to wget and then save ...
7
votes
2answers
5k views

Manipulate file name piped from find command

I'm relatively new to Bash and am trying to do something that on the surface seemed pretty straightforward - run find over a directory hierarchy to get all of the *.wma files, pipe that output to a ...
7
votes
2answers
4k views

List elements with spaces in zsh

I've been studying zsh scripting for all of 2 hours at this point and I've hit a wall. I want to go through a list of files that may have spaces in them. I'm open to completely different approaches ...
6
votes
6answers
3k views

Portable way to find inode number

At first I used stat -c %i file (to help detect the presence of a jail), which seemed to work on any Linux distribution under the sun. On OS X' I had to use ls -i file | cut -d ' ' -f 1. Is there ...