I have a script loaded as a service in /etc/init.d/myfile

When I try to start the service I get the error

/etc/init.d/myservice: 21: /etc/init.d/myservice: Syntax error: "(" unexpected

The issue seems to be with the process substitution <( in the source command. I use it without any problem in other scripts to extract variables from my main config file but inside a case statement I don't know how to make it work.

myservice contains:


# Provides:          myservice
# Required-Start:    $remote_fs $syslog $network
# Required-Stop:     $remote_fs $syslog
# Default-Start:     2 3 4 5
# Default-Stop:      0 1 6
# Short-Description: my service
# Description:       Start the myservice service

case "$1" in
    # start processes
        # Import the following variables from config.conf: cfgfile, dir, bindir
        source <(grep myservice /opt/mysoftware/config.conf | grep -oP '.*(?= #)')
        if [ -f $cfgfile ]
            echo "Starting myservice"
            /usr/bin/screen -U -d -m $bindir/myscript.sh $cfgfile
            echo "myservice could not start because the file $cfgfile is missing"
    # kill processes
    echo "Stopping myservice"
    screen -ls | grep Detached | cut -d. -f1 | awk '{print $1}' | xargs kill
    # kill and restart processes
    /etc/init.d/myservice stop
    /etc/init.d/myservice start
    echo "Usage: /etc/init.d/myservice {start|stop|restart}"
    exit 1

exit 0

The file config.conf is a list of variable declarations with a short description and the name of the script using them. I use grep filters to source only the variables I need for a given script.

It looks like this:

var1=value # path to tmp folder   myservice
var2=value # log file name        myservice script1.sh script2.sh
var3=value # prefix for log file  script1.sh script2.sh

Note: The service worked fine before I converted it to start using the config file instead of hardcoded values.

Thank you.

  • 2
    Not all shells support <(...), since it's a nonstandard extension. If you change the first line to #!/bin/bash, does it work? – Mark Plotnick Jan 7 '15 at 21:06
  • Wow... I really missed that! my shebang is set to /bin/bash every were except in this file. I used a template I got online to create it. I shall test and report! :) – TCZ8 Jan 7 '15 at 21:38
  • It works! Thank you so much! Please make your comment into an answer otherwise I will have to accept l0b0's answer. – TCZ8 Jan 7 '15 at 21:44

Bash, ksh93, zsh, and other recent shells support process substitution (the <(command) syntax), but it is a non-standard extension. Dash (which is /bin/sh on Ubuntu systems) doesn't support it, and bash when invoked as /bin/sh doesn't, either.

If you have bash available, change the first line of your script to, for example, #!/bin/bash .

[On systems that have bash in a directory on a mountable filesystem, such as /usr/local/bin on some systems, you might need to make sure that filesystem is available before your service is started.]

| improve this answer | |

Process substitution is a bashism, but your shebang line is #!/bin/sh. Unless /bin/sh is Bash or some other shell which supports process substitution, that syntax is indeed not supported, as pointed out by @MarkPlotnick.

| improve this answer | |
  • Oh yeah! sure does! l0b0 I will accept your answer if Mark doesnt make his comment into one. Thank you everyone! – TCZ8 Jan 7 '15 at 21:45

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