I need to find the path of a given program on the
PATH using a shell script. The path must be the actual full path of the program, which can be passed later to one of the
exec* functions, which does not search the
PATH itself, e.g.
There are programs like
kill, which are available as an actual program and a shell built-in at the same time. If this is case, I need the full path to the actual program.
There are several utilities that can find a program on the
PATH as specified in Section 184.108.40.206, Command Search and Execution of the POSIX standard.
which, which is not part of any standard. It can be a regular program on some systems, whereas some shells provide it is a builtin. It seems to be available on most systems and shells, but the shells with a builtin version, also just return the name of the built-in instead of the path to the executable. Also it is not standardized in any way and may return any output and take different options.
bash# which kill /usr/bin/kill dash# which kill /usr/bin/kill fish# which kill /usr/bin/kill mksh# which kill /usr/bin/kill tcsh# which kill kill: shell built-in command. zsh# which kill kill: shell built-in command
whence, which is a built-in of a few shells. But not available on many shells. It will too return the name of the built-in instead of the path to program. A
-p may be passed to whence to change this behavior.
bash# whence kill bash: whence: command not found dash# whence kill dash: 1: whence: not found fish# whence kill fish: Unknown command 'whence' mksh# whence kill kill mksh# whence -p kill /usr/bin/kill tcsh# whence kill whence: Command not found. zsh# whence kill kill zsh# whence -p kill /usr/bin/kill
There is the
command builtin specified by POSIX:2008. Unfortunately it also searches for regular commands and built-ins and will return the name of the built-in instead of the path to the program shadowed by a built-in of the same name. Some old shells haven't implemented it yet.
bash# command -v kill kill dash# command -v kill kill fish# command -v kill /usr/bin/kill mksh# command -v kill kill tcsh# command -v kill command: Command not found. zsh# command -v kill kill