I am trying to learn how to use getopts so that I can have scripts with parsed input (although I think getopts could be better). I am trying to just write a simple script to return partition usage percentages. The problem is that one of my bash functions does not seem to like that I reference $1 as an variable within the function. The reason I reference $1 is because the get_percent function can be passed a mount point as an optional argument to display instead of all of the mount points.

The script


set -e
set -u
set -o pipefail

    if [ -n "$1" ] 
        df -h $1 | tail -n +2 | awk '{ print $1,"\t",$5 }'
        df -h | tail -n +2 | awk '{ print $1,"\t",$5 }'

    echo "script usage: $(basename $0) [-h] [-p] [-m mount_point]" >&2

# If the user doesn't supply any arguments, we run the script as normal
if [ $# -eq 0 ];
    exit 0
# ...

The Output

$ bash thing.sh
thing.sh: line 8: $1: unbound variable

$ bash -x thing.sh
+ set -e
+ set -u
+ set -o pipefail
+ '[' 0 -eq 0 ']'
+ get_percent
thing.sh: line 8: $1: unbound variable
  • I don't think this has anything to do with getopts, does it? Your script exits due to -u before calling getopts. – ilkkachu Aug 16 '18 at 18:31
  • @ikkachu no I guess it doesn't. But I'm not sure I can change the title now. – Timothy Pulliam Aug 16 '18 at 18:33
  • There should be that small "edit" text under the post, just beneath the tags in a question – ilkkachu Aug 16 '18 at 18:36

set -u will abort exactly as you describe if you reference a variable which has not been set. You are invoking your script with no arguments, so get_percent is being invoked with no arguments, causing $1 to be unset.

Either check for this before invoking your function, or use default expansions (${1-default} will expand to default if not already set to something else).

|improve this answer|||||
  • I suspected this, but I couldn't think of a way around it. Default expansion seems to have fixed it. Thank you very much! – Timothy Pulliam Aug 16 '18 at 18:10
  • 7
    In particular, one could use [ -n "${1-}" ] (that is, with an empty default value) to see if the parameter is set and non-empty; or [ "${1+x}" = x ] to see if it's set, even if empty. – ilkkachu Aug 16 '18 at 18:30
  • I still get unbound variable error despite using if [[ -n ${1-default} ]] – Chaitanya Bapat Dec 7 '19 at 2:59

This is the effect of set -u.

You could check $# inside the function and avoid referencing $1 if it is not set.

With $# you can access the number of parameters. In global context it is the number of parameters to the script, in a function it is the number of parameters to the function.

In the context of the question, it is

if [ $# -ge 1 ] && [ -n "$1" ]
    df -h $1 | tail -n +2 | awk '{ print $1,"\t",$5 }'
    df -h | tail -n +2 | awk '{ print $1,"\t",$5 }'

Note that you have to use [ $# -ge 1 ] && [ -n "$1" ] and not [ $# -ge 1 -a -n "$1" ], because that would first evaluate $1 and then check $#.

|improve this answer|||||
  • Can you explain more how to use $# and how to check it? Thanks – Chaitanya Bapat Dec 7 '19 at 2:58
  • 1
    I added an example. – RalfFriedl Dec 7 '19 at 8:10

Since this is bash you can sidestep the check for $1 being set and just use "$@" ($1 is the first parameter, $@ is all of them; when double-quoted, it disappears completely if it has no values, which avoids it being caught by set -u):

get_percent() {
    df -h "$@" | awk 'NR>1 { printf "%s\t%s\n", $1, $5 }'

I've also tweaked the rest of the line slightly so that you don't get {space}{tab}{space} between the two values you output but insead you get just a {tab}. If you really want the two invisible spaces then change the awk to use printf "%s \t %s\n", $1, $5.

|improve this answer|||||
  • I will have to look into this. I'm not familiar with that variable type. Thanks – Timothy Pulliam Aug 16 '18 at 18:29
  • @TimothyPulliam I've added a short explanation of $@ for you – roaima Dec 7 '19 at 9:34

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