I'm a newbie in bash scripting and I have a problem with the aggrupation of the commands. Precisely in this line of code:

timeout -s 9 1 echo $var | nc localhost port

I'm trying to send data of a variable var via netcat to localhost in a specific port, and I want to timeout that command for 1 second. Reading the man pages of timeout I understand that it should be used as:


My question is how to replace COMMAND with the piped command echo $var | nc localhost port and for further knowledge how to write correctly the next situations:




If I'm correct, the second example is equivalent to


but I don't know how to write the first one.

  • 2
    You could just do echo "$var" | timeout -s 9 1 nc localhost port That wouldn't solve the overall issue of timing out an entire pipeline though.
    – jesse_b
    Feb 1, 2020 at 23:11
  • @jesse_b yeah I like this aproach, thank you so much!!
    – TempledUX
    Feb 1, 2020 at 23:25
  • Do you mean aggregation (or grouping)?
    – muru
    Feb 2, 2020 at 6:03
  • 1
    For this particular case you don't need a pipeline: timeout -s9 1 nc localhost port <<<$var (unless it contains globs you want expanded, or whitespace to be normalized) Feb 2, 2020 at 7:52
  • @dave_thompson_085 that's a pretty elegant solution, I didn't know about the <<< operator, thank you for the new knowledge!!
    – TempledUX
    Feb 2, 2020 at 23:48

1 Answer 1


That COMMAND is going to be interpreted by timeout, not bash. You cannot put a subshell (the piped commands inside ( and )).

You could put your commands inside a shell script and then pass its name to timeout.

Or actually force COMMAND to be interpreted by bash. This should work:

timeout -s 9 1 bash -c "echo $var | nc localhost port"
  • This was the main issue, I thought that the COMMAND was interpreted directly by bash, now I see clearly why it didn't work. Thank you!!
    – TempledUX
    Feb 1, 2020 at 23:27

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