If I do this:

echo <(cat)

I get:


so say at the command line I have:

myapp -f <(cat)

when I run it I get this error:

You need to pass a file after the -f flag. The resolved file path was: '/dev/fd/63'. This path did not appear to exist on the filesystem.

How can I determine if the result of the process substitution is an actual file (for validation purposes)? Here is my bash code which generated the error:

  if [[ -L "$file_path" ]]; then
     file_path="$(readlink "$file_path")";

  if [[ ! -f "$file_path" ]]; then
    echo "You need to pass a file after the -f flag. The resolved file path was: '$file_path'. This path did not appear to exist on the filesystem".;
    return 1;

if I get rid of my validation, code, I get this:

Could not open the following file for reading: /dev/fd/63 EBADF: bad file descriptor, open '/dev/fd/63'

The node.js code I am using to read from the path is:

const fd = fs.openSync(file_path, 'r');
fs.read(fd, ...);
  • 2
    [ -f file ] tests if file is a regular file, and the file created by a process substitution is a pipe, not a regular file. Also, on Linux, the target of a /dev/fd/n -> /proc/self/fd/n "symlink" is some informative string like type:[inum], not a path for pipes, sockets, etc. – mosvy Aug 3 '19 at 19:50
  • so much for everything is a file lulz..anyway I just want to be able to read from /dev/fd/x, is there some way to do that? – Alexander Mills Aug 3 '19 at 20:22
  • 1
    maybe you should post a complete example; node -e 'fs=require("fs"); fs.openSync(process.argv[1], "r")' <(cat /dev/null) works for me. – mosvy Aug 3 '19 at 20:40
  • 1
    But simply cat <(cat) will not work from console, because the cat inside the process substitution may run in a different process group than the foreground one, and cannot read from the tty. – mosvy Aug 3 '19 at 20:44
  • 1
    I don't have a MacOS system. But someone else may have, so post a complete reproducible testcase. FWIW, on BSD, /dev/fd/N are character special files (they aren't regular files, either). And on FreeBSD you should mount fdescfs if you want to access filedescs > 2 via /dev/fd/N. – mosvy Aug 3 '19 at 20:51

To determine, in Bash, whether a string value is a path on your current system, use [[ -e "$path" ]]. This checks whether the path exists, and doesn't make any assumptions about the type of file it points to.

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