I have these variables in my script:


I want the TARGET_DIR var to hold this path: /home/username/.ssh but to use ~ instead of /home/. But when I run the script and try to make new .ssh dir under username it tells me:

mkdir: cannot create directory ‘~username/.ssh’: No such file or directory

Even though the /home/username dirs exists. If I do: TARGET_DIR="/home/${TARGET}/.ssh" it works. How can I use the ~ sign in the variable?

  • ~ will refer to the users home directory i.e. /home/username. You would therefore not need to expand ~ but rather add home to TARGET_DIR so TARGET_DIR="/home/$TARGET/.ssh" – Raman Sailopal Nov 22 '17 at 16:20

In bash, ash, mksh and yash tilde expansion occurs before parameter expansion, so that can't work.

You can use ksh93 or zsh instead here, or resort to eval:

user=username # making sure it's a valid username
eval "user_home=~$user"

If your system has a getent command (quite common nowadays), you can also use:

user_home=$(getent -- passwd "$user" | cut -d: -f6)

Or use perl:

user_home=$(perl -le 'for (@ARGV) {
  @u = getpwnam$_ or die "No such user: $_\n";
  print $u[7]}' -- "$user")

Which would also work with users with uncommon characters in their username (like space which zsh's ~$user but not ksh93's ~"$user" would also have a problem with).

  • thanks, but didn't you meant the other way? That param expansion happens before the ~ expansion? Otherwise, it makes no sense to me. I would like if you can clarify that for me, please. – lakerda Nov 23 '17 at 8:48
  • @lakerda, no. If param expansion happened before, then ~$user would be expanded to ~username and then to /home/userhome. But it's the other way round. If you had a user whose username was $user, ~$user would expand to the home directory of that user (in bash, not in ash/mksh/yash where that ~$user is simply not recognised as a tilde expansion at all as they consider $ is not a valid character in a user name. As currently written, the POSIX spec would imply that only bash is conformant in that regard (but not conformant in others, the POSIX spec is not clear)). – Stéphane Chazelas Nov 23 '17 at 9:29

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