I have written a one-liner bash script(bright.sh) to manually adjust the display brightness.

sudo sh -c 'echo "$1" > /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness'

Here I take the brightness value from the terminal and pass it as an argument to the echo command. But on running the script, I get an I/O error as follows:

sh: echo: I/O error

What do I do in order to pass the argument successfully from the terminal and control the brightness manually? An example usage might look like:

./bright.sh 230

3 Answers 3


The $1 in the sh -c script will expand to the first command line argument of that script, not to the first command line argument of the calling script (since the sh -c script is single quoted).

The correct solution is not to inject the value of $1 from the calling script into the sudo script (this would allow for various interesting code injection vulnerabilities), but to pass $1 from the outer script to the inner:

sudo sh -c 'printf "%s\n" "$1" > /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness' sh "$1"

Alternatively, use sudo tee to write to the file as root:

printf '%s\n' "$1" | sudo tee /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness >/dev/null

If the data printed to the file is always an integer, use %d as the printf format placeholder instead of %s.


I was able to fix that by putting $1 outside the single inverted comma. Not sure if this is the best approach.

The working script now looks like-

sudo sh -c 'echo '$1' > /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness'


Yes you see the problem (your answer https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/481424/4778), but you still must quote the $1 (just in case). And don't forget to specify the interpreter (#!…)

«solution removed, as it does not quote properly, and has a security bug. see @Kusalananda answer.»

We can concatenate strings by touching them together. Double quotes will expand $ expressions, but single will not. In this case you could have put it all in a double quote, as the rest of the text has no $s, so it makes no difference.


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