Looking at the file /etc/rc.d/init.d/functions, I can see the following is declaring a number of variables as local variables. However, why are the variables killlevel and pid_file have an equal sign after them?

killproc() {
        local RC killlevel= base pid pid_file= delay try

I'm also seeing the following syntaxes ... Any idea what ${1##*/} or ${2:-} bits are for?

__pids_var_run() {
        local base=${1##*/}
        local pid_file=${2:-/var/run/$base.pid}

migrated from serverfault.com Jan 26 '14 at 5:36

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.


These are known as parameter expansion,which is advance syntax of Shell scripting

  1. ${2:-/var/run/$base.pid} is example of

    ${VAR :-default }

    This will result in $VAR unless VAR is unset or null, in which case it will result in default. In given script, if ${2} is not set, then default value /var/run/$base.pid is taken

  2. base=${1##*/} is example of


    You can strip $var as per given pattern from front of $var if f=/etc/resolv.conf then, echo ${f#/etc/} will remove /etc/ part and get a filename only


# This will return etc/httpd/httpd.conf
echo ${f#*/}  
# This will return httpd.conf
echo ${f##*/}

Single # is non-greedy whereas, double # is greedy approach of matching expression.

  • Thanks. I was testing it out and appears to be coming to the same conclusion but it's good to have someone verifying it. Just to be clear, base=${1##*/} means strip from the character "#" (there is a second #) and any repetition of it (due to the *) until the character "/"? – user192702 Jan 26 '14 at 6:33
  • ${var#pattern} will remove from shortest front pattern and ${var##pattern} will remove from longest front pattern. – Abhijeet Kasurde Jan 26 '14 at 6:36
  • Okay can you give me an example just to be clear? I'm not following. Sorry. – user192702 Jan 26 '14 at 6:38
  • Also see following link for Parameter Exapsion -gnu.org/software/bash/manual/… – Abhijeet Kasurde Jan 26 '14 at 7:21
  • @AbhijeetKasurde I edited your post. One typo, but primarily formatting of the enumeration as I suspected you did not know how to indent the code under de standard enumeration syntax on this site. From reading I was not sure if you would wanted the sentence "You can strip..." to be indented under 2. as well, turn that back if you don't want it like that. – Anthon Jan 26 '14 at 7:23

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