Questions tagged [bash]

Questions specific to GNU’s Bourne Again SHell, as opposed to other Bourne/POSIX shells. For questions about Unix shells in general, use the /shell tag instead. For shell scripts with errors/syntax errors, please check them with the shellcheck program (or in the web shellcheck server at https://shellcheck.net) before posting here.

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352 votes
6 answers
355k views

Why does my shell script choke on whitespace or other special characters?

Or, an introductory guide to robust filename handling and other string passing in shell scripts. I wrote a shell script which works well most of the time. But it chokes on some inputs (e.g. on some ...
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156 votes
1 answer
67k views

When is double-quoting necessary?

The old advice used to be to double-quote any expression involving a $VARIABLE, at least if one wanted it to be interpreted by the shell as one single item, otherwise, any spaces in the content of $...
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255 votes
3 answers
40k views

Security implications of forgetting to quote a variable in bash/POSIX shells

If you've been following unix.stackexchange.com for a while, you should hopefully know by now that leaving a variable unquoted in list context (as in echo $var) in Bourne/POSIX shells (zsh being the ...
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131 votes
5 answers
171k views

How can we run a command stored in a variable?

$ ls -l /tmp/test/my\ dir/ total 0 I was wondering why the following ways to run the above command fail or succeed? $ abc='ls -l "/tmp/test/my dir"' $ $abc ls: cannot access '"/tmp/test/my': No ...
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  • 89.8k
131 votes
4 answers
63k views

Is there a ".bashrc" equivalent file read by all shells?

Is ~/.bashrc the only place to specify user specific environment variables, aliases, modifications to PATH variable, etc? I ask because it seems that ~/.bashrc seems to be bash-only, but other ...
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  • 23.5k
97 votes
4 answers
109k views

Understanding "IFS= read -r line"

I obviously understand that one can add value to internal field separator variable. For example: $ IFS=blah $ echo "$IFS" blah $ I also understand that read -r line will save data from stdin to ...
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  • 6,268
106 votes
3 answers
337k views

How can I assign the output of a command to a shell variable?

I want to assign the result of an expression (i.e., the output from a command) to a variable and then manipulate it – for example, concatenate it with a string, then echo it.  Here's what I've got: #!/...
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  • 1,208
19 votes
2 answers
9k views

Brackets in if condition: why am I getting syntax errors without whitespace?

I am using the below script to move two days back when script runs at starting two days of the year and also check first and second days of every month and move two days back. if [$month="01"...
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  • 331
418 votes
15 answers
80k views

In Bash, when to alias, when to script, and when to write a function?

It's taken me almost 10 years of Linux usage to ask this question. It was all trial and error and random late-night internet surfing. But people shouldn't need 10 years for this. If I were just ...
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  • 12.8k
145 votes
3 answers
31k views

Have backticks (i.e. `cmd`) in *sh shells been deprecated?

I've seen this comment many times on Unix & Linux as well as on other sites that use the phrasing "backticks have been deprecated", with respect to shells such as Bash & Zsh. Is this ...
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  • 344k
1239 votes
12 answers
3.0m views

How to correctly add a path to PATH?

I'm wondering where a new path has to be added to the PATH environment variable. I know this can be accomplished by editing .bashrc (for example), but it's not clear how to do this. This way: export ...
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  • 15.6k
113 votes
4 answers
45k views

Why does parameter expansion with spaces without quotes work inside double brackets "[[" but not inside single brackets "["?

I'm confused with using single or double brackets. Look at this code: dir="/home/mazimi/VirtualBox VMs" if [[ -d ${dir} ]]; then echo "yep" fi It works perfectly although the string contains a ...
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  • 2,888
185 votes
14 answers
215k views

Batch renaming files

I have a directory full of images: image0001.png image0002.png image0003.png ... And I would like a one-liner to rename them to (say). 0001.png 0002.png 0003.png ... How do I do this?
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  • 3,373
48 votes
5 answers
22k views

How can I use $variable in a shell brace expansion of a sequence?

I want to use $var in a shell brace expansion with a range, in bash. Simply putting {$var1..$var2} doesn't work, so I went "lateral"... The following works, but it's a bit kludgey. # remove the ...
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  • 31k
100 votes
5 answers
23k views

What is the difference between sourcing ('.' or 'source') and executing a file in bash?

What's the difference between executing a script like this: ./test.sh and executing a script like this: . test.sh? I tried a simple, two-line script to see if I could find if there was a ...
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  • 1,115
82 votes
4 answers
131k views

How can I make environment variables "exported" in a shell script stick around?

I have multiple Amazon EC2 accounts and want to quickly be able to switch variables, such as $EC2_HOME, using a script. I have have a shell script set up like this: #!/bin/sh export EC2_HOME=/home/...
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  • 41.3k
62 votes
1 answer
9k views

What is the difference between the "...", '...', $'...', and $"..." quotes in the shell?

Sometimes I see shell scripts use all of these different ways of quoting some text: "...", '...', $'...', and $"...". Why are there so many different kinds of quote being used? Do ...
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664 votes
24 answers
244k views

Preserve bash history in multiple terminal windows

I consistently have more than one terminal open. Anywhere from two to ten, doing various bits and bobs. Now let's say I restart and open up another set of terminals. Some remember certain things, some ...
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  • 14.9k
478 votes
6 answers
218k views

What is the difference between the Bash operators [[ vs [ vs ( vs ((?

I am a little bit confused on what do these operators do differently when used in bash (brackets, double brackets, parenthesis and double parenthesis). [[ , [ , ( , (( I have seen people use them on ...
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  • 4,929
24 votes
3 answers
12k views

Which shell interpreter runs a script with no shebang?

Suppose the default shell for my account is zsh but I opened the terminal and fired up bash and executed a script named prac002.sh, which shell interpreter would be used to execute the script, zsh or ...
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  • 1,044
46 votes
1 answer
16k views

How do ${0##*/} and ${0%/*} work?

I'm quite confused about the following regular expressions I found in a shell script: ${0##*/} ${0%/*} How do they work?
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225 votes
10 answers
136k views

Terminal prompt not wrapping correctly

I have an issue where if I type in very long commands in bash the terminal will not render what I'm typing correctly. I'd expect that if I had a command like the following: username@someserver ~/...
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  • 2,360
115 votes
11 answers
303k views

Script to change current directory (cd, pwd)

I want to run a script to simply change the current working directory: #!/bin/bash cd web/www/project But, after I run it, the current pwd remains unchanged! How can I do that?
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  • 1,253
206 votes
10 answers
272k views

Looping through files with spaces in the names? [duplicate]

I wrote the following script to diff the outputs of two directores with all the same files in them as such: #!/bin/bash for file in `find . -name "*.csv"` do echo "file = $file"; diff $...
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  • 6,583
12 votes
2 answers
4k views

Use a shell variable in awk

Here is my script (to find the files that contain a specified pattern): find . -type f \ -exec awk -v vawk="$1" '/'"$vawk"'/ {c++} c>0 { print ARGV[1]; exit 0 } END { if (! c) {exit 1}}' \{\} \...
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  • 389
132 votes
36 answers
66k views

Quick directory navigation in the bash shell

I would like to frequently switch between directories that are in totally unrelated paths, for example /Project/Warnest/docs/ and ~/Dropbox/Projects/ds/test/. But I don't want to type cd /[full-path]/...
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  • 1,583
31 votes
2 answers
13k views

In bash, read after a pipe is not setting values

With ksh I'm using read as a convenient way to separate values: $ echo 1 2 3 4 5 | read a b dump $ echo $b $a 2 1 $ But it fails in Bash: $ echo 1 2 3 4 5 | read a b dump $ echo $b $a $ I didn'...
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  • 4,017
60 votes
3 answers
9k views

Order of redirections

I don't quite understand how the computer reads this command. cat file1 file2 1> file.txt 2>&1 If I understand, 2>&1 simply redirect Standard Error to Standard Output. By that ...
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86 votes
2 answers
31k views

Why is my bash prompt getting bugged when I browse the history? [duplicate]

Often when I start looking at history of commands some of the characters from a command displayed aren't erased, for example: What's happening: prompt$ some_command prompt$ some_commanother_command ...
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  • 1,431
341 votes
4 answers
96k views

How do I clear Bash's cache of paths to executables?

When I execute a program without specifying the full path to the executable, and Bash must search the directories in $PATH to find the binary, it seems that Bash remembers the path in some sort of ...
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339 votes
15 answers
505k views

How do I change the extension of multiple files?

I would like to change a file extension from *.txt to *.text. I tried using the basename command, but I'm having trouble on changing more than one file. Here's my code: files=`ls -1 *.txt` for x in ...
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  • 3,709
192 votes
3 answers
115k views

Are there naming conventions for variables in shell scripts?

Most languages have naming conventions for variables, the most common style I see in shell scripts is MY_VARIABLE=foo. Is this the convention or is it only for global variables? What about variables ...
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  • 4,641
242 votes
9 answers
173k views

How to determine where an environment variable came from?

I have a Linux instance that I set up some time ago. When I fire it up and log in as root there are some environment variables that I set up but I can't remember or find where they came from. I've ...
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  • 2,523
94 votes
8 answers
60k views

When would you use an additional file descriptor?

I know you can create a file descriptor and redirect output to it. e.g. exec 3<> /tmp/foo # open fd 3. echo a >&3 # write to it exec 3>&- # close fd 3. But you can do the same ...
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  • 26.9k
288 votes
5 answers
239k views

Why doesn't my Bash script recognize aliases?

In my ~/.bashrc file reside two definitions: commandA, which is an alias to a longer path commandB, which is an alias to a Bash script I want to process the same file with these two commands, so I ...
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  • 9,674
185 votes
3 answers
158k views

Quoting within $(command substitution) in Bash

In my Bash environment I use variables containing spaces, and I use these variables within command substitution. What is the correct way to quote my variables? And how should I do it if these are ...
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85 votes
4 answers
28k views

What is the difference between a builtin command and one that is not?

Is there any intrinsic difference between a builtin command and another command which can nominally do the same thing? eg. Do builtins get "special" treatement? ... is there less overhead running ...
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  • 31k
617 votes
3 answers
466k views

Using "${a:-b}" for variable assignment in scripts

I have been looking at a few scripts other people wrote (specifically Red Hat), and a lot of their variables are assigned using the following notation VARIABLE1="${VARIABLE1:-some_val}" or some expand ...
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7 votes
2 answers
5k views

Terminal prompt overwrites current line

I have an issue with my terminal prompt line. When the line is too long it wraps on the same line and then Up arrow makes it look even worse. I have already checked Terminal prompt not wrapping ...
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  • 73
235 votes
11 answers
113k views

Is there a one-liner that allows me to create a directory and move into it at the same time?

I find myself repeating a lot of: mkdir longtitleproject cd longtitleproject Is there a way of doing it in one line without repeating the directory name? I'm on bash here.
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34 votes
4 answers
13k views

Quoting in ssh $host $FOO and ssh $host "sudo su user -c $FOO" type constructs

I often end up issuing complex commands over ssh; these commands involve piping to awk or perl one-lines, and as a result contain single quotes and $'s. I have neither been able to figure out a hard ...
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46 votes
3 answers
21k views

Execute bash scripts on entering a directory

What is the best way to execute a script when entering into a directory? When I move into a new directory I would like bash to execute the projectSettings.bash script much like RVM does.
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  • 4,648
9 votes
2 answers
5k views

Can I read and write to the same file in Linux without overwriting it? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How can I make iconv replace the input file with the converted output? I frequently connect to amazon ec2 using their public DNS names (ec2-12-34-56-78.compute-1.amazonaws.com)...
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  • 41.3k
278 votes
9 answers
703k views

What is the "eval" command in bash?

What can you do with the eval command? Why is it useful? Is it some kind of a built-in function in bash? There is no man page for it..
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  • 36.1k
59 votes
3 answers
19k views

unix, difference between path starting with '/' and '//' [duplicate]

In unix/linux, any number of consecutive forwardslashes in a path is generally equivalent to a single forwardslash. eg. $ cd /home/shum $ pwd /home/shum $ cd /home//shum $ pwd /home/shum $ cd /home///...
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  • 1,315
11 votes
2 answers
8k views

Why are bash tests so picky about whitespace?

As a primarily Java programmer, I find the bash if-then construct quite confusing, especially regarding whitespace. Can anyone explain why the first one works, but not the second or third? #works if [...
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72 votes
2 answers
56k views

Output from ls has newlines but displays on a single line. Why?

I think I may be overlooking a relatively fundamental point regarding shell. Output from the ls command by default separates output with newlines, but the shell displays the output on a single line. ...
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97 votes
5 answers
104k views

Exclude one pattern from glob match

I have several files with the same base filename. I'd like to remove all but one foo.org #keep foo.tex #delete foo.fls #delete foo.bib #delete etc If I didn't need to keep one, I know I could use rm ...
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  • 1,167
50 votes
5 answers
11k views

Can bash write to its own input stream?

Is it possible in an interactive bash shell to enter a command that outputs some text so that it appears at the next command prompt, as if the user had typed in that text at that prompt ? I want to ...
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  • 6,648
39 votes
3 answers
4k views

What is the difference between [[ $a == z* ]] and [ $a == z* ]?

Is there is any difference between these two. [[ $a == z* ]] and [ $a == z* ] Can I have an example where they would have different outputs? Furthermore, how does the working of [[ ]] differs ...
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