Shell Script in Question

Let me explain what I am trying to do by e.g. so you can understand better. Let's say I have 100 .torrent files in a directory. 2 of them will download xxx.epub and yyy.epub respectively if added to a bittorrent client, but I don't know which 2 out of the 100.

So what my script does is, (1) use find to go through all .torrent files in pwd and pass each .torrent file, as it comes by, to transmission-show which will parse the .torrent file and output metadata in human readable format. We'll then use awk to get the file name the torrent file will download and run that against the list.txt which has file names we are looking for, i.e. xxx.epub and yyy.epub.

File: findtor-array.sh

#! /bin/bash
# Search .torrent file based on 'Name' field.
# cd ~/myspace # location of .torrent files
# Run `findtor ~/list.txt` (if `findtor.sh` is placed in `~/bin` or `~/.local/bin`)

# Turn the list of file names from ~/list.txt (or any file passed as argument) into an array
readarray -t FILE_NAMES_TO_SEARCH < "$1"

# For each file name from the list...
    # In `pwd` and 1 directory-level under, look for .torrent files and search them for the file name
    find . -maxdepth 2 -name '*.torrent' -type f -exec bash -c "transmission-show \"\$1\" | awk '/^Name\: / || /^File\: /' | awk -F ': ' '\$2 ~ \"$FILE_NAME\" {getline; print}'" _ {} \; >> ~/torrents.txt

    # The `transmission-show` command included in `find`, on it own, for clarity:
    # transmission-show xxx.torrent | awk '/^Name: / || /^File: /' | awk -F ': ' '$2 ~ "SEARCH STRING" {getline; print}'

I think the process is simple and I am doing it right (except there are no checks, I know). But somehow the whole task seems too much for the script, because after running it, after sometime it starts throwing these errors continuously until I Ctrl + C it:

_: -c: line 0: unexpected EOF while looking for matching `"'
_: -c: line 1: syntax error: unexpected end of file

Are these "scaling" issues? What am I missing and what can I do to fix it?

  • Do you have filenames in the file that you give to your script that contains "? Are they regular expressions? You are currently injecting the contents of the file as code into your awk program. It would be better to pass the values properly, as described in unix.stackexchange.com/questions/120788/… (I would additionally switch the order of the find and the for loop so that find calls a script that loops, rather than the other way around).
    – Kusalananda
    Apr 4, 2020 at 7:34
  • @Kusalananda No, and only some files only contain single quotes in their names. Thanks for your suggestion, I will look into it.
    – its_me
    Apr 4, 2020 at 9:46
  • 1
    @its_me Ok, if you have a single quote in a filename, then I'm not surprised that your code breaks as it is being inserted into the awk code and will end the current single-quoted string where it occurs. Consider passing the string properly with awk -v instead.
    – Kusalananda
    Apr 4, 2020 at 9:56

3 Answers 3


FILE_NAME is being passed directly to bash -c in the -exec option of your find command. This causes problems if FILE_NAME contains quotes/shell code. In fact, arbitrary code could be executed. Example: in this particular case, the input file could contain a line '; echo "run commands";'

Instead, pass the loop var to bash -c as a positional parameter. e.g.:

find . -maxdepth 2 -name '*.torrent' -type f -exec sh -c '
transmission-show "$2" |
awk -v search="$1" '\''/^Name: / {name = substr($0,7)} /^File: / && name ~ search {print; exit}'\' \
_ "$FILE_NAME" {} \;

Also, it seems inefficient to loop over all search terms for each file. Consider looping over files and searching with grep -f file:

find . -maxdepth 2 -name '*.torrent' -type f -exec sh -c '
if transmission-show "$file" | head -n 1 | cut -d" " -f2- | grep -q "$@"; then
    printf "%s\n" "$file"
fi' _ {} "$@" \;

or without find:

for file in *.torrent */*.torrent; do
    if transmission-show "$file" | head -n 1 | cut -d' ' -f2- | grep -q "$@"; then
        printf '%s\n' "$file"
  • The above simply passes all arguments to grep, so usage would be findtor -f ~/list.txt to take patterns from list, -F for fixed strings, -e expression, etc.
  • What do you think of my answer? I don't know much bash or shell-scripting, so I had to stick with what I know or find.
    – its_me
    Apr 4, 2020 at 12:20
  • @its_me: .... well, what do you think of the gracious help that you were just offered as a response to your request ?
    – Cbhihe
    Apr 4, 2020 at 17:41

Based on suggestions from @Kusalananda, the answers (by @guest and @Jetchisel), and this detailed answer by Kevin, I came up with this:

#! /bin/bash
# Search for 'Name' field match in torrent metadata for all .torrent files in
# current directory and directories 1-level below.
# USAGE e.g.:
# cd ~/torrent-files # location of .torrent files
# Run `~/findtor.sh ~/list.txt`

# Get one file name at a time ($FILE_NAME_TO_SEARCH) to search for from list.txt
# provided as argument to this script.
while IFS= read -r FILE_NAME_TO_SEARCH; do

    # `find` .torrent files in current directory and directories 1-level under
    # it. `-print0` to print the full file name on the standard output, followed
    # by a null character (instead of the newline character that `-print` uses).
    # While that's happening, we'll again use read, this time to pass one
    # .torrent file at a time (from output of `find`) to `transmission-show`
    # for the latter to output the metadata of the torrent file, followed by
    # `awk` commands to look for the file name match ($FILE_NAME_TO_SEARCH) from
    # list.txt.
    find . -maxdepth 2 -name '*.torrent' -type f -print0 |
        while IFS= read -r -d '' TORRENT_NAME; do
            transmission-show "$TORRENT_NAME" | awk '/^Name: / || /^File: /' | awk -F ': ' -v search_string="$FILE_NAME_TO_SEARCH" '$2 ~ search_string {getline; print}';
        done >> ~/torrents-found.txt

done < "$1"

I just ran this and so far it seems to be working great. So a big thank you to everyone involved!

While I did my best, any fixes and further suggestions are welcome.

  • Upvoted this, glad you had it working,
    – Jetchisel
    Apr 4, 2020 at 22:19
  • Hi, this is looking OK. +1 for finding your own solution. I think it could be made more efficient by not looping over the search terms. At the moment the script queries each torrent file against each search term (i.e. 100 search terms would mean that each file is queried 100 times). Instead, as you are looping over each torrent file, it should be possible to extract the "Name" information from transmission-show, then check that against all queries with grep -f ~/list – if that matches, print the filename
    – guest
    Apr 4, 2020 at 23:30
  • @guest Yes, I am actually working on that part suggested in your answer. Will update my answer once I am done. Thank you!
    – its_me
    Apr 5, 2020 at 0:00

I would write it like this.

#!/usr/bin/env bash


while IFS= read -r -d '' file; do
    transmission-show "$file" | awk .... "$pattern_file"   ##: Figure out how to do the awk with a file rather than looping through an array.
done < <(find . -maxdepth 2 -name '*.torrent' -type f -print0)

That should avoid the quoting hell :-)

Ok maybe the nullglob is not needed.


Try the find command and use it on your original script.

find . -maxdepth 2 -name '*.torrent' -type f -exec bash -c 'transmission-show "$1" | awk "/^Name\: / || /^File\: /" | awk -F ": " "\$2 ~ \"$FILE_NAME\" {getline; print}"' _ {} + >> ~/torrents.txt
  • Thank you, I will test it out right away. Meanwhile, isn't the code supposed end with shopt -u extglob nullglob in this case?
    – its_me
    Apr 4, 2020 at 5:26
  • help shopt should tell you which option does what. Well you can disable it but if the script ends then the option ends too.
    – Jetchisel
    Apr 4, 2020 at 5:29
  • shopt --help is where I am coming from with that comment. Just wanted to be sure. Also ShellCheck says if [[ $file == "$pattern" ]]; then would be ideal, what do you think? ($pattern in quotes: github.com/koalaman/shellcheck/wiki/SC2053) Unnecessary?
    – its_me
    Apr 4, 2020 at 5:40
  • the pattern expands to @(foo|bar|baz|more|....) since it is an extglob feature , well if shellcheck says to quote then sure. Basically I will quote everything until it does not work, not the other way around.
    – Jetchisel
    Apr 4, 2020 at 5:44
  • I don't think the code does what I am doing. transmission-show is supposed to get one .torrent file at a time from find. You are instead giving it one file name at a time from the list.txt which is meant to be searched for in the output of transmission-show, not the other way. Can you please take another look.
    – its_me
    Apr 4, 2020 at 5:51

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