I have a bash script called a located in /home/agrillet/ where I do this command:

BOOTSTRAP_MODIF="stat -c %Y '/home/agrillet/a'"

The output is: ./a: line 60: stat -c %Y '/home/agrillet/a': No such file or directory

But when I run the same command in my terminal, it works:

$ stat -c %Y '/home/agrillet/a'

I am not running the command as root in both cases, can someone explain what is happening and how to be able to get information about the script while running it?

If I use another command in the script such as cat /home/agrillet/a, I am able to print the script from the script itself.

  • 2
    if that's supposed to be command substitution, you need $() around the command. e.g. BOOTSTRAP_MODIF="$(stat -c %Y '/home/agrillet/a')". BTW, did you edit that line before posting it - in particular, is there a space character after the =? that's the most likely explanation for the error message you posted.
    – cas
    Feb 5, 2018 at 12:08

1 Answer 1



BOOTSTRAP_MODIF="stat -c %Y '/home/agrillet/a'"

Sets the variable BOOTSTRAP_MODIF to the string stat -c %Y '/home/agrillet/a'. It doesn't produce any output.

If you expand the variable later, as "$BOOTSTRAP_MODIF" (with quotes), you get exactly that string, as one string. The error message looks like Bash trying to execute a command of that name (spaces and all), which you don't have.

You can run the script with bash -x (or sh -x), or use set -x inside the script to see the commands the shell actually tries to run.

See BashFAQ 050 on how to save a command for later use.

  • Thank you, a simple mistake that had me confused due to the message reported. Looking at the error message again, the error line was an important information that I missed: the issue was not while instantiating BOOTSTRAP_MODIF but when using it. Feb 5, 2018 at 12:56

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