I set an array named “disks” to the following words - sdb sdc sdd

in bash shell:

declare -A disks
disks[$Machine]="sdb sdc sdd"

now we print all words as the following:

echo ${disks[@]}
sdb sdc sdd

now we want to print the first item ( that should be sdb )

echo ${disks[0]}

but no output

the same with:

echo ${disks[1]}

echo ${disks[2]}

also with:

echo ${disks[3]}

echo ${disks[4]}

what is wrong here?

also not as:

for i in {1..100}
> do
> echo ${disks[$i]}
> done

so how can I print the first words of the array “disks” - when Machine=worker01

echo ${disks[$Machine]}

4 Answers 4


You're assigning to disks[worker01], but trying to read from disks[0] etc. The indexes are different.

As someone commented, Bash doesn't have multidimensional arrays, and that's what you really would need here. You can simulate that roughly with with space-separated strings, but then you need to split the string explicitly.


declare -A disks
disks["host1"]="sda sdb"
disks["host2"]="sda sdb sdc"

for m in "${!disks[@]}"; do
    # split the string to array 'd'
    IFS=' ' read -a d <<< "${disks[$m]}"
    printf "$m has disk %s\n" "${d[@]}"

Why did you declare Machines when you never use it after?

$ disks=(sdb sdc sdd)
$ echo ${disks[0]}
$ echo ${disks[1]}
$ echo ${disks[2]}
  • because each machine have the uniq disks
    – yael
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 11:47
  • for example how to print only the first word from - echo ${disks[$Machines]}
    – yael
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 11:50
  • 1
    bash doesn't support multi-dimensional arrrays at all. Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 11:54

The data is in ${disks[worker01]}, not in ${disks[0]}.

I am also wondering if you are trying to use an array of arrays: An array of machines, each with an array of disks.

  • because we have 20 machines as worker01 , worker02 , etc , and each machine have the uniq disks , so my target is to build array of machines and each machines hold the disks
    – yael
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 12:12
  • I am confused. Linguistically that makes no sense: If you were to walk into my cheese shop with a ”I love cheese” t-shirt, and I was to ask you ”Would you like some cheese”, and you were to reply “Because I like dairy products”, then I would be confused, and no more informed about your preferences. Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 12:18

if you are looking just to print an specific value you could use:

echo ${disks[$Machine]} | awk '{print $1}'

where $1 = index 0



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