I have a nice bash/zenity script that I use to check/update a number of git repos and report the status of each like this - showing only one sample repo here:

zenity --class=CheckGit --info title="Check git updates" --text="\n \
<b>MY-GIT-REPO:</b> $(cd "/home/ME/.local/share/git/MY-GIT-REPO" && git pull | grep -E '(up-to-date|changed)')"

It was working well until I encountered an error due to a change in one of the local files, which resulted in a blank line for that repo.

Terminal output was like this:

error: Your local changes to the following files would be overwritten by merge:
Please, commit your changes or stash them before you can merge.

So I modified the grep command like this: grep -E '(up-to-date|changed|error)' to also display such messages. But to my surprise it still refused to show anything.

As a novice in bash scripting I don't understand what is causing this. How come grep displays lines containing the words "up-to-date" or "changed" but not "error"?.. Does this word have a special meaning then? In that case how can I make it display an error message?

1 Answer 1


Git writes its errors to stderr, so you don't miss out on them if you redirect the normal output (to a file, or in your case pipe it into a program).

You can try:

zenity --class=CheckGit --info title="Check git updates" --text="\n \
<b>MY-GIT-REPO:</b> $(cd "/home/ME/.local/share/git/MY-GIT-REPO" && git pull 2>&1 | grep -E '(up-to-date|changed|error)')"
  • Thanks! But there's something strange: I can't reproduce that error message again using the base git pull command after a local change. So I couldn't test if your suggestion will display the error message in my zenity window. Can you please confirm that leaving grep to look for "up-to-date" or "changed" only as you suggest will result in displaying any error messages if the status cannot reported as "up-to-date" or "changed"?
    – Sadi
    Jun 11, 2015 at 11:59
  • @Sadi You should check for "error" as well, otherwise these get filtered out by the grep
    – Anthon
    Jun 11, 2015 at 12:01
  • 1
    OK, thanks. I couldn't get git to give me such an "error" message again as it did in the morning (no matter what changes I did locally) but in the end I've managed to get a "fatal" message ;-) So I've also learned that this is another word to look for ;-)
    – Sadi
    Jun 11, 2015 at 12:16

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