I have the opposite question to this. How do I keep all commands in bash history?

In Ubuntu since quite some time now, the default for bash is to forget commands with non success exit code.

Unix user @goldilocks pointed out that maybe I am just confused by the ignoreboth directive.

set pastie

  • 3
    To me it looks like this is not the default to forget unsucessful commands in Ubuntu. What version are you using? Could you post a link to the output of the "set" command in pasebin or something so we could see what makes it delete the commands?
    – Didi Kohen
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 10:25
  • @DavidKohen, added pastebin link. Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 10:43
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    The only thing I see in relation to history deletion is the fact that it ignores duplicates and lines that start with a space. Are you sure it ignores the failed commands?
    – Didi Kohen
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 10:55
  • I was quite sure, but you make me doubt myself. It's not that way for "false". I will come back to this question and update it when annoyance strikes again. Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 12:08
  • 1
    ... "and lines that start with a space". This!
    – horsh
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 9:43

3 Answers 3


FWIW, I use HISTFILE=~/.bash_history_$(date '+%Y%m%d_%H_%M_%S_%N').txt in my .bashrc file to make a single history file for each session, with a timestamp. That way I don't lose commands when I hit $HISTSIZE commands. history only shows me the command history for the current terminal session, but I can easily search previous bash history with grep 'what to find' .bash_history*


I think you are confused because of HISTCONTROL=ignoreboth. See here: http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/using-bash-history-more-efficiently-histcontrol


I suspect that you're not doing quite what you think you're doing. Run frobiz: , then see if that's in your history. Frobiz should normally fail - there's no such command. But it will be in your history. I suspect that you are trying something like ls *![0-9], which will fail with

ls !(*.[0-9])
base ![0-9]": event not found

The thing is; when failing like this, bash never attempts to run the command, so it doesn't get put into the history. IGNOREBOTH is irrelevant to this - it works as advertised. Try escaping the ! (which the shell is taking to refer, ironically, to a command in the history) - eg:

ls \! ...

And it will probably work as expected.

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