48
votes
3answers
17k 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 ...
91
votes
8answers
44k views

How can I disown a running process and associate it to a new screen shell?

I have a running program on a SSH shell. I want to pause it and be able to unpause its execution when I come back. One way I thought of doing that was to transfer its ownership to a screen shell, ...
538
votes
3answers
111k views

What is the exact difference between a 'terminal', a 'shell', a 'tty' and a 'console'?

I think these terms almost refer to the same thing, when used loosely: terminal shell tty console What exactly does each of these terms refer to?
48
votes
4answers
6k views

Alternative to .bashrc

Is ~/.bashrc the only place where I can specify user specific ENV Variables, aliases, modifications to PATH variable, etc? I ask because it seems that ~/.bashrc would be BASH only...
35
votes
2answers
21k views

Getting “Not found” message when running a 32-bit binary on a 64-bit system

I have currently a strange problem on debian (wheezy/amd64). I have created a chroot to install a server (i can't give any more detail about it, sorry). Let's call its path /chr_path/. To make things ...
28
votes
4answers
58k views

Open a window on a remote X display (why “Cannot open display”)?

Once upon a time, DISPLAY=:0.0 totem /path/to/movie.avi after ssh 'ing into my desktop from my laptop would cause totem to play movie.avi on my desktop. Now it gives the error: No protocol ...
55
votes
5answers
5k views

Redirecting stdout to a file you don't have write permission on

When you attempt to modify a file without having write permissions on it, you get an error: > touch /tmp/foo && sudo chown root /tmp/foo > echo test > /tmp/foo zsh: permission ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

What are the shell's control and redirection operators?

I often see tutorials online that connect various commands with different symbols. For example: command1 | command2 command1 & command2 command1 || command2 command1 && command2 ...
221
votes
5answers
78k views

Why is printf better than echo?

I have heard that printf is better than echo. I can recall only one instance from my experience where I had to use printf because echo didn't work for feeding some text into some program on RHEL 5.8 ...
45
votes
8answers
70k views

How to run a specific program as root without a password prompt?

I need to run something as sudo without a password, so I used visudo and added this to my sudoers file: MYUSERNAME ALL = NOPASSWD: /path/to/my/program Then I tried it out: $ sudo ...
108
votes
3answers
7k views

Why not use “which”? What to use then?

When looking for the path to an executable or checking what would happen would you enter a command name in a Unix shell, there's a plethora of different utilities (which, type, command, whence, where, ...
36
votes
7answers
15k views

Recovering accidentally deleted files

I accidentally deleted a file from my laptop. I'm using Fedora. Is it possible to recover the file?
36
votes
2answers
34k views

How do I run 32-bit programs on a 64-bit Debian/Ubuntu?

I have a 64-bit (amd64 a.k.a. x86_64) Debian or Ubuntu installation. I need to run 32-bit (i386/i686) programs occasionally, or to compile programs for a 32-bit system. How can I do this with a ...
77
votes
6answers
49k views

Allow setuid on shell scripts

The setuid permission bit tells Linux to run a program with the effective user id of the owner instead of the executor: > cat setuid-test.c #include <stdio.h> #include <unistd.h> int ...
46
votes
4answers
48k views

How do I run a command as the system administrator (root)

I need to run a command with administrative privileges. Someone said I should run a command as root. How do I do this?
8
votes
1answer
3k views

How can I install more recent versions of software than what Debian provides?

Suppose I want a more recent version of software than is available for my current version of an operating system, what can I do? Cases to consider: There are semiofficial/official sources of ...
69
votes
9answers
23k 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 ...
58
votes
1answer
3k views

Why are there so many different ways to measure disk usage?

When I sum up the sizes of my files, I get one figure. If I run du, I get another figure. If I run du on all the files on my partition, it doesn't match what df claims is used. Why are there so many ...
80
votes
4answers
33k views

Difference between Login Shell and Non-Login Shell?

I understand the basic difference between an interactive shell and a non-interactive shell. But what exactly differentiates a login shell from a non-login shell? Can you give examples for uses of a ...
171
votes
6answers
23k views

What do the numbers in a man page mean?

So, for example, when I type man ls I see LS(1). But if I type man apachectl I see APACHECTL(8) and if I type man cd I end up with cd(n). I'm wondering what the significance of the numbers in the ...
47
votes
2answers
6k 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?
40
votes
4answers
18k views

Is there a way to determine the optimal value for the bs parameter to dd?

On occasion I've seen comments online along the lines of "make sure you set 'bs=' because the default value will take too long," and my own extremely-unscientific experiences of, "well that seemed to ...
17
votes
1answer
607 views

How do ${0##*/} and ${0%/*} work?

I'm quite confused about the following regular expressions I found in a shell script: ${0##*/} ${0%/*} How do they work?
54
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
7k views

Can I launch a graphical program on another user's desktop as root?

Following are other questions which I think I need to know: From a non X Session? (meaning root isn't logged into X) If multiple people were logged in on X, could I auto-detect who was on which ...
30
votes
3answers
9k views

How to pass parameters to an alias?

For bash script, I can use "$@" to access arguments. What's the equivalent when I use an alias?
2
votes
3answers
541 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
59k views

Turn off buffering in pipe

I have a script which calls two commands: long_running_command | print_progress The long_running_command prints a progress but I'm unhappy with it. I'm using print_progress to make it more nice ...
153
votes
3answers
66k views

How do directory permissions in Linux work?

In my CMS, I noticed that directories need the executable bit (+x) set for the user to open them. Why is the execute permission required to read a directory, and how do directory permissions in Linux ...
75
votes
17answers
71k views

How can I get distribution name and version number in a simple shell script?

I'm working on a simple bash script that should be able to run on Ubuntu and CentOS distributions (support for Debian and Fedora/RHEL would be a plus) and I need to know the name and version of the ...
47
votes
4answers
25k views

Why is `while IFS= read` used so often, instead of `IFS=; while read..`?

It seems that normal practice would put the setting of IFS outside the while loop in order to not repeat setting it for each iteration... Is this just a habitual "monkey see, monkey do" style, as it ...
114
votes
5answers
33k views

Is Linux a Unix?

So, there are lots of different versions of Unix out there: HP-UX, AIX, BSD, etc. Linux is considered a Unix clone rather than an implementation of Unix. Are all the "real" Unices actual descendants ...
44
votes
3answers
3k views

Why is using a shell loop to process text considered bad practice?

Is using a while loop to process text generally considered bad practice in POSIX shells? As Stéphane Chazelas pointed out, some of the reasons for not using shell loop are conceptual, reliability, ...
35
votes
10answers
16k views

Batch renaming files

I have a directory full of images: image0001.png image0002.png image0003.png ... And I would like a one-liner to rename them to (say). 0001.png 0002.png 0003.png ... How do I do this?
37
votes
3answers
6k views

When is dd suitable for copying data? (or, when are read() and write() partial)

Short version: In what circumstances is dd safe to use for copying data, safe meaning that there is no risk of corruption due to a partial read or write? Long version — preamble: dd is often used to ...
96
votes
6answers
58k views

Keep SSH Sessions running after disconnection

I sometimes have long running processes that I want to kick off before going home, so I create a SSH session to the server to start the process, but then I want to close my laptop and go home and ...
141
votes
16answers
85k views

How to do integer & float calculations, in bash or other languages/frameworks?

Using echo "20+5" literally produces the text "20+5" What command can I use to get the numeric sum, e.g. 25 in this case. Also, what's the easiest way to do it just using bash for floating point, ...
190
votes
5answers
12k views

What's the difference between $(stuff) and `stuff`?

There are two syntaxes for command substitution: with dollar-parentheses and with backticks. Running top -p $(pidof init) and top -p `pidof init` gives the same output. Are these two ways of doing the ...
36
votes
4answers
28k views

Moving linux install to a new computer

I know that it can, in some circumstances, be difficult to move a Windows installation from one computer to another (physically move the hard drive), but how does that work on linux? Aren't most of ...
47
votes
9answers
65k views

Looping through files with spaces in the names?

I wrote the following script to diff the outputs of two directores with all the same files in them as such: #!/bin/bash for file in `find . -name "*.csv"` do echo "file = $file"; diff ...
25
votes
5answers
2k views

Keeping track of programs

When I install a simple program it often uses make && make install and doesn't often even have an uninstall target. If I wish to upgrade a program, is it standard protocol to assume it just ...
193
votes
13answers
56k views

Preserve bash history in multiple terminal windows

I consistently have more than one terminal open. Anywhere from two to ten, doing various bits and bobs. Now let's say I restart and open up another set of terminals. Some remember certain things, some ...
93
votes
3answers
192k views

How can I replace a string in a file(s)?

Replacing strings in files based on certain search criteria is a very common task. How can I replace string foo with bar in all files in the current directory? do the same recursively for sub ...
114
votes
9answers
99k views

SSH easily copy file to local system

If I'm logged in to a system via SSH, is there a way to copy a file back to my local system without firing up another terminal or screen session and doing scp or something similar or without doing SSH ...
38
votes
8answers
40k views

Rsync filter: copying one pattern only

I am trying to create a directory that will house all and only my PDFs compiled from LaTeX. I like keeping each project in a separate folder, all housed in a big folder called LaTeX. So I tried ...
62
votes
5answers
148k views

How do I set a user environment variable? (permanently, not session)

This is irritating me. I seen several suggestions (all using different files and syntax) and none of them worked. How do I set an environment variable for a specific user? I am on debian squeeze. ...
44
votes
6answers
66k views

cat line X to line Y on a huge file

Say I have a huge text file (>2GB) and I just want to cat the lines X to Y (e.g. 57890000 to 57890010). From what I understand I can do this by piping head into tail or viceversa, i.e. head -A ...
27
votes
2answers
9k 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 ...
199
votes
10answers
23k 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 ...
114
votes
3answers
29k views

What does “--” (double-dash) mean? (also known as “bare double dash”)

I have seen -- used in the compgen command. For example: compgen -W "foo bar baz" -- b What is the meaning of the --.

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