I have a custom $PROMPT_COMMAND in bash that logs the last executed command and its return code. I was using $? for the latter happily until I realized that for piped commands this was insufficient. I thought I'd log ${PIPESTATUS[@]} instead.

Unfortunately $PIPESTATUS seems to be set after the invocation of the $PROMPT_COMMAND. Is there any trickery that I can use to access this information during the execution of $PROMPT_COMMAND?

  • This works for me: PROMPT_COMMAND='true | false | true; echo "${PIPESTATUS[@]}"' – Cyrus Oct 22 '14 at 15:10
  • Try this: PROMPT_COMMAND='echo "${PIPESTATUS[@]}"' and then run true | false | true – Jacobo de Vera Oct 22 '14 at 15:16
  • Now I understand your problem. But it works fine with my old Ubuntu 11.04. Output is: 0 1 0 – Cyrus Oct 22 '14 at 15:24
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    @JacobodeVera Doing exactly this works for me, as it should. Did you test exactly this? If not, what exactly are you doing, and what version of bash are you running? – Gilles Oct 22 '14 at 18:51
  • I was doing it wrong, see my comment in the answer below. Thanks for your help. – Jacobo de Vera Oct 23 '14 at 13:05

Commands within your prompt command function alter PIPESTATUS, bash saves and restores PIPESTATUS (and $?) after your prompt command, see the description of the intended behaviour here.

The trick is to save $PIPESTATUS[] (and/or $?) in the very first statement of your function, after that the original values are overwritten.

function myprompt() {
   _pipestatus=( "${PIPESTATUS[@]}" )
   echo "current: ${PIPESTATUS[@]}"
   echo "cached : ${_pipestatus[@]}"



$ true | false | true
current: 0
cached : 0 1 0

I do something similar to what you have described, but within a trap handler function for ERR rather than a prompt command.

  • Ah, of course! I was doing the same thing for the return code and forgot about it completely, then tried to capture PIPESTATUS way below, after doing other things. – Jacobo de Vera Oct 23 '14 at 10:37

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