I'd like to use set -e in a bash script, but every time I run it any error kills my shell.

  say I have script.sh:

  #! /usr/bin/env bash
  set -e

An error in my_command blows up my shell whether I do:

 % ./script.sh (after chmod)


 % . ./script.sh

There must be an easy way around this.

  • 1
    Using set -e inside a script is not supposed to terminate your shell if you invoke it as ./script.sh. Are you sure that's actually happening as you describe? Can you try to build a small reproducible example that demonstrates it? Are you sure you don't already have set -e on your shell? (You can disable it with set +e and you can see which options are set with echo $-). Good luck! – filbranden May 23 '18 at 18:42
  • 1
    Patient: "Doctor, it hurts when I do (this)"; Doctor: "Well, stop doing (that)" -- are you sure you really need/want to use set -e – glenn jackman May 23 '18 at 18:57

Do you mean that your interactive shell exits?

If you source a script (with .) that sets set -e from your interactive shell, the "exit-on-error" flag will also be set in your interactive shell. If you've done that before, then it will apply to any command you run afterwards, be it a sourced script (. ./script.sh), or one started normally (./script.sh).

The solution is to not source scripts that set -e.

You may also want to see BashFAQ 105 on other issues with set -e.

  • That's why I thought executing it would not kill the shell, but that kills the shell too. – Ray Salemi May 23 '18 at 18:24
  • 3
    @RaySalemi, what I mean is that if you run . ./script.sh, and it succeeds, then set -e will be in effect in your interactive shell. Afterwards, running ./script.sh would trigger the error exit if the script now failed. Either it's that, or you have set -e in some of the shell's startup files. But just running that script normally, will not exit the main interactive shell. – ilkkachu May 23 '18 at 18:28
  • But should ./script.sh kill the shell? I thought it should not – Ray Salemi May 23 '18 at 21:57
  • @RaySalemi It will not. But, if you have previously run . ./script.sh this would enable set -e in the interactive shell. A failure in script.sh when running it as ./script.sh would then kill the interactive shell. – Kusalananda May 24 '18 at 9:38

If you want to have set -e in an interactive shell, and want to execute a command which may return nonzero, you need to catch that exit code. One method:

$ some_command || :


$ if ! some_command; then :; fi

If you did ever call set -e in your login shell and then run a command that returns a non-zero exit code that is not used in a compound statement, then your login shell will exit:

set -e

will log you out.

If you did ever run a script that includes set -e using . ./script you did set -e in your login shell.

If you later run any command with non zero exit code: bingo.

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