I have gotten the wrapper script 'hhighlighter' from https://github.com/paoloantinori/hhighlighter which colors anything you want in stdout. I followed the instructions about installing ack-grep, created alias for ack=ack-grep in ~/.bashrc, put the h() function in ~/.bashrc, everything works fine when typing in the terminal. But when putting the EXACT same commands in a bash script, it says command not found. I will give examples here...

root@kali:~# echo "abcd" | h a b c d

Here is what my script looks like

echo "abcd" | h a b c d

Exactly like the command typed in, but here is the output when running the script

root@kali:~# ./test.sh
./test.sh: line 1: h: command not found

How could this work when typing directly in the terminal, but not when having the exact same command in a bash script? If my ~/.bashrc is needed or anything else is needed to solve this please let me know, its been going on 4 days now without figuring this out.


The problem is: When bash is started non-interactively then it does not read ~/.bashrc.

Thus you have to read h() from the script.

If you want to use aliases in a script then you have to

  1. enable the use of aliases in the script with shopt -s expand_aliases

  2. define the alias in the script.

An alternative to an alias is defining a shell function (which works the same in interactive and non-interactive shells):

foo () {
  bar "$@"

But it is not possible to take over alias or function definitions from the running shell into a script as the shell running the script is re-initialized.

  • So should i put the h() function in my bash script instead of my ~/.bashrc file? The instructions here github.com/paoloantinori/hhighlighter say to put the h() function in the ~/.bashrc file..... – Will Hughes Nov 25 '14 at 18:34
  • I put the h() function in my bash script, and now its telling me the 'ack' command cannot be found. I have ack-grep installed for my distro not ack, and so I made an alias inside my ~/.bashrc -- alias ack='ack-grep'...I even typed it in the terminal before running the command but still says ack - command not found... – Will Hughes Nov 25 '14 at 18:40
  • @WillHughes I have extended the answer. – Hauke Laging Nov 25 '14 at 22:09
  • I reworded the question to hopefully make more sense, and simplify it a little. – Will Hughes Nov 25 '14 at 22:40
  • @WillHughes I have told you everything you need to know. Obviously you don't do what I explained in my answer. – Hauke Laging Nov 25 '14 at 22:44

Solution that helped me was to force the script to run in interactive mode with a #!/bin/bash -i header.

Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide warns about weird consequences though:

Be aware that this can cause erratic script behavior or show error messages even when no error is present.

However I haven't observed anything like this.

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