As I was looking this answer https://stackoverflow.com/a/11065196/4706711 in order to figure out on how to use parameters like --something or -s some questions rised regarding the answer's script :

TEMP=`getopt -o ab:c:: --long a-long,b-long:,c-long:: \
     -n 'example.bash' -- "$@"`

if [ $? != 0 ] ; then echo "Terminating..." >&2 ; exit 1 ; fi

# Note the quotes around `$TEMP': they are essential!
eval set -- "$TEMP"

while true ; do
    case "$1" in
        -a|--a-long) echo "Option a" ; shift ;;
        -b|--b-long) echo "Option b, argument \`$2'" ; shift 2 ;;
            # c has an optional argument. As we are in quoted mode,
            # an empty parameter will be generated if its optional
            # argument is not found.
            case "$2" in
                "") echo "Option c, no argument"; shift 2 ;;
                *)  echo "Option c, argument \`$2'" ; shift 2 ;;
            esac ;;
        --) shift ; break ;;
        *) echo "Internal error!" ; exit 1 ;;
echo "Remaining arguments:"
for arg do echo '--> '"\`$arg'" ; done

First of all what does the shift program in the following line:

        -a|--a-long) echo "Option a" ; shift ;;

Afterwards what is the purpose to use the eval command in the following line:

eval set -- "$TEMP"

I tried to comment the line in script mentioned above and I got the following response:

$ ./getOptExample2.sh  -a 10 -b 20 --a-long 40 -charem --c-long=echi
Param: -a
Option a
Param: 10
Internal error!

But if I uncomment it it runs like a charm:

Option a
Option b, argument `20'
Option a
Option c, argument `harem'
Option c, argument `echi'
Remaining arguments:
--> `10'
--> `40'
  • 1
    Your outputs with and without the comment are the same. Is that the problem? – muru Aug 4 '17 at 7:17

One of the many things that getopt does while parsing options is to rearrange the arguments, so that non-option arguments come last, and combined short options are split up. From man getopt:

Output is generated for each element described in the previous section.
Output is done in the same order as the elements are specified  in  the
input,  except  for  non-option  parameters.   Output  can  be  done in
compatible (unquoted) mode, or in such way that  whitespace  and  other
special  characters  within  arguments  and  non-option  parameters are
preserved (see QUOTING).  When the output is  processed  in  the  shell
script,  it  will  seem to be composed of distinct elements that can be
processed one by  one  (by  using  the  shift  command  in  most  shell


Normally, no  non-option  parameters  output  is  generated  until  all
options  and  their  arguments  have  been  generated.   Then  '--'  is
generated as a single parameter, and after it the non-option parameters
in  the  order  they were found, each as a separate parameter.

This effect is reflected in your code, where the option-handling loop assumes that all option arguments (including arguments to options) come first, and come separately, and are finally followed by non-option arguments.

So, TEMP contains the rearranged, quoted, split-up options, and using eval set makes them script arguments.

As for shift, it does what it always does: remove the first argument, and shift all arguments (so that what was $2 will now be $1). This eliminates the arguments that have been processed, so that, after this loop, only non-option arguments are left and you can conveniently use $@ without worrying about options.

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  • At least in the GNU enhanced getopt, you can prevent the re-ordering of the options list by setting the scanning mode to -. To do this, the first character in the short arguments list should be -, as in -o -ab:c:: – bobpaul Mar 20 '18 at 17:51

The script works correctly when it gives you an error for -a 10. The -a option needs no parameter in this script. You should only use -a.

The shift described in the man page as the following:

shift [n]
              The positional parameters from n+1 ... are renamed to $1 ....  Parameters represented by the numbers $# down to $#-n+1 are unset.  n must be a non-negative number less than or equal to $#.  If  n  is
              0,  no  parameters are changed.  If n is not given, it is assumed to be 1.  If n is greater than $#, the positional parameters are not changed.  The return status is greater than zero if n is greater
              than $# or less than zero; otherwise 0.

So basically it drops -a and shift the remaining arguments so the second parameter will be $1 in the next cycle.

-- is also described in the man page:

 --        A -- signals the end of options and disables further option processing.  Any arguments after the -- are treated as filenames and arguments.  An argument of - is equivalent to --.
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