Before a command is executed, its input and output may be redirected using a special notation interpreted by the shell. Redirection may also be used to open and close files for the current shell execution environment. The following redirection operators may precede or appear anywhere within a simple command or may follow a command . Redirections are processed in the order they appear, from left to right.
In the following descriptions, if the file descriptor number is omitted, and the first character of the redirection operator is < , the redirection refers to the standard input (file descriptor 0). If the first character of the redirection operator is > , the redirection refers to the standard output (file descriptor 1).
The word following the redirection operator in the following descriptions, unless otherwise noted, is subjected to brace expansion, tilde expansion, parameter expansion, command substitution, arithmetic expansion, quote removal, pathname expansion, and word splitting. If it expands to more than one word, bash reports an error.
Note that the order of redirections is significant. For example, the command
directs both standard output and standard error to the file dirlist , while the command
directs only the standard output to file dirlist , because the standard error was duplicated as standard output before the standard output was redirected to dirlist .
Bash handles several filenames specially when they are used in redirections, as described in the following table:
A failure to open or create a file causes the redirection to fail.
Redirection of input causes the file whose name results from the expansion of word to be opened for reading on file descriptor n , or the standard input (file descriptor 0) if n is not specified.
Redirection of output causes the file whose name results from the expansion of word to be opened for writing on file descriptor n , or the standard output (file descriptor 1) if n is not specified. If the file does not exist it is created; if it does exist it is truncated to zero size.
If the redirection operator is > , and the noclobber option to the set builtin has been enabled, the redirection will fail if the file whose name results from the expansion of word exists and is a regular file. If the redirection operator is >| , or the redirection operator is > and the noclobber option to the set builtin command is not enabled, the redirection is attempted even if the file named by word exists.
Redirection of output in this fashion causes the file whose name results from the expansion of word to be opened for appending on file descriptor n , or the standard output (file descriptor 1) if n is not specified. If the file does not exist it is created.
Bash allows both the standard output (file descriptor 1) and the standard error output (file descriptor 2) to be redirected to the file whose name is the expansion of word with this construct.
Of the two forms, the first is preferred. This is semantically equivalent to
This type of redirection instructs the shell to read input from the current source until a line containing only word (with no trailing blanks) is seen. All of the lines read up to that point are then used as the standard input for a command.
No parameter expansion, command substitution, arithmetic expansion, or pathname expansion is performed on word . If any characters in word are quoted, the delimiter is the result of quote removal on word , and the lines in the here-document are not expanded. If word is unquoted, all lines of the here-document are subjected to parameter expansion, command substitution, and arithmetic expansion. In the latter case, the character sequence \<newline> is ignored, and \ must be used to quote the characters \ , $ , and ` .
If the redirection operator is <<- , then all leading tab characters are stripped from input lines and the line containing delimiter . This allows here-documents within shell scripts to be indented in a natural fashion.
The redirection operator
is used to duplicate input file descriptors. If word expands to one or more digits, the file descriptor denoted by n is made to be a copy of that file descriptor. If the digits in word do not specify a file descriptor open for input, a redirection error occurs. If word evaluates to - , file descriptor n is closed. If n is not specified, the standard input (file descriptor 0) is used.
is used similarly to duplicate output file descriptors. If n is not specified, the standard output (file descriptor 1) is used. If the digits in word do not specify a file descriptor open for output, a redirection error occurs. As a special case, if n is omitted, and word does not expand to one or more digits, the standard output and standard error are redirected as described previously.
The redirection operator
causes the file whose name is the expansion of word to be opened for both reading and writing on file descriptor n , or on file descriptor 0 if n is not specified. If the file does not exist, it is created.
Aliases allow a string to be substituted for a word when it is used as the first word of a simple command. The shell maintains a list of aliases that may be set and unset with the alias and unalias builtin commands (see SHELL BUILTIN COMMANDS below). The first word of each command, if unquoted, is checked to see if it has an alias. If so, that word is replaced by the text of the alias. The alias name and the replacement text may contain any valid shell input, including the metacharacters listed above, with the exception that the alias name may not contain =. The first word of the replacement text is tested for aliases, but a word that is identical to an alias being expanded is not expanded a second time. This means that one may alias ls to ls -F , for instance, and bash does not try to recursively expand the replacement text. If the last character of the alias value is a blank , then the next command word following the alias is also checked for alias expansion.
Aliases are created and listed with the alias command, and removed with the unalias command.
There is no mechanism for using arguments in the replacement text. If arguments are needed, a shell function should be used (see FUNCTIONS below).
Aliases are not expanded when the shell is not interactive, unless the expand_aliases shell option is set using shopt (see the description of shopt under SHELL BUILTIN COMMANDS below).
The rules concerning the definition and use of aliases are somewhat confusing. Bash always reads at least one complete line of input before executing any of the commands on that line. Aliases are expanded when a command is read, not when it is executed. Therefore, an alias definition appearing on the same line as another command does not take effect until the next line of input is read. The commands following the alias definition on that line are not affected by the new alias. This behavior is also an issue when functions are executed. Aliases are expanded when a function definition is read, not when the function is executed, because a function definition is itself a compound command. As a consequence, aliases defined in a function are not available until after that function is executed. To be safe, always put alias definitions on a separate line, and do not use alias in compound commands.
For almost every purpose, aliases are superseded by shell functions.
A shell function, defined as described above under SHELL GRAMMAR , stores a series of commands for later execution. When the name of a shell function is used as a simple command name, the list of commands associated with that function name is executed. Functions are executed in the context of the current shell; no new process is created to interpret them (contrast this with the execution of a shell script). When a function is executed, the arguments to the function become the positional parameters during its execution. The special parameter # is updated to reflect the change. Positional parameter 0 is unchanged. The FUNCNAME variable is set to the name of the function while the function is executing. All other aspects of the shell execution environment are identical between a function and its caller with the exception that the DEBUG trap (see the description of the trap builtin under SHELL BUILTIN COMMANDS below) is not inherited.
Variables local to the function may be declared with the local builtin command. Ordinarily, variables and their values are shared between the function and its caller.
If the builtin command return is executed in a function, the function completes and execution resumes with the next command after the function call. When a function completes, the values of the positional parameters and the special parameter # are restored to the values they had prior to the function's execution.
Function names and definitions may be listed with the -f option to the declare or typeset builtin commands. The -F option to declare or typeset will list the function names only. Functions may be exported so that subshells automatically have them defined with the -f option to the export builtin.
Functions may be recursive. No limit is imposed on the number of recursive calls.
The shell allows arithmetic expressions to be evaluated, under certain circumstances (see the let builtin command and Arithmetic Expansion). Evaluation is done in long integers with no check for overflow, though division by 0 is trapped and flagged as an error. The operators and their precedence and associativity are the same as in the C language. The following list of operators is grouped into levels of equal-precedence operators. The levels are listed in order of decreasing precedence.
Shell variables are allowed as operands; parameter expansion is performed before the expression is evaluated. Within an expression, shell variables may also be referenced by name without using the parameter expansion syntax. The value of a variable is evaluated as an arithmetic expression when it is referenced. A shell variable need not have its integer attribute turned on to be used in an expression.
Constants with a leading 0 are interpreted as octal numbers. A leading 0x or 0X denotes hexadecimal. Otherwise, numbers take the form [''base#''?n, where base is a decimal number between 2 and 64 representing the arithmetic base, and n is a number in that base. If base# is omitted, then base 10 is used. The digits greater than 9 are represented by the lowercase letters, the uppercase letters, _, and @, in that order. If base is less than or equal to 36, lowercase and uppercase letters may be used interchangably to represent numbers between 10 and 35.
Operators are evaluated in order of precedence. Sub-expressions in parentheses are evaluated first and may override the precedence rules above.
Conditional expressions are used by the [[[[ compound command and the test and [[ builtin commands to test file attributes and perform string and arithmetic comparisons. Expressions are formed from the following unary or binary primaries. If any file argument to one of the primaries is of the form /dev/fd/n, then file descriptor n is checked. If the file argument to one of the primaries is one of /dev/stdin, /dev/stdout, or /dev/stderr, file descriptor 0, 1, or 2, respectively, is checked.
If no command name results, the variable assignments affect the current shell environment. Otherwise, the variables are added to the environment of the executed command and do not affect the current shell environment. If any of the assignments attempts to assign a value to a readonly variable, an error occurs, and the command exits with a non-zero status.
If no command name results, redirections are performed, but do not affect the current shell environment. A redirection error causes the command to exit with a non-zero status.
If there is a command name left after expansion, execution proceeds as described below. Otherwise, the command exits. If one of the expansions contained a command substitution, the exit status of the command is the exit status of the last command substitution performed. If there were no command substitutions, the command exits with a status of zero.
After a command has been split into words, if it results in a simple command and an optional list of arguments, the following actions are taken.
If the command name contains no slashes, the shell attempts to locate it. If there exists a shell function by that name, that function is invoked as described above in FUNCTIONS . If the name does not match a function, the shell searches for it in the list of shell builtins. If a match is found, that builtin is invoked.
If the name is neither a shell function nor a builtin, and contains no slashes, bash searches each element of the PATH for a directory containing an executable file by that name. Bash uses a hash table to remember the full pathnames of executable files (see hash under SHELL BUILTIN COMMANDS below). A full search of the directories in PATH is performed only if the command is not found in the hash table. If the search is unsuccessful, the shell prints an error message and returns an exit status of 127.
If the search is successful, or if the command name contains one or more slashes, the shell executes the named program in a separate execution environment. Argument 0 is set to the name given, and the remaining arguments to the command are set to the arguments given, if any.
If this execution fails because the file is not in executable format, and the file is not a directory, it is assumed to be a shell script, a file containing shell commands. A subshell is spawned to execute it. This subshell reinitializes itself, so that the effect is as if a new shell had been invoked to handle the script, with the exception that the locations of commands remembered by the parent (see hash below under SHELL BUILTIN COMMANDS) are retained by the child.
If the program is a file beginning with #! , the remainder of the first line specifies an interpreter for the program. The shell executes the specified interpreter on operating systems that do not handle this executable format themselves. The arguments to the interpreter consist of a single optional argument following the interpreter name on the first line of the program, followed by the name of the program, followed by the command arguments, if any.
A command invoked in this separate environment cannot affect the shell's execution environment.
Command substitution and asynchronous commands are invoked in a subshell environment that is a duplicate of the shell environment, except that traps caught by the shell are reset to the values that the shell inherited from its parent at invocation. Builtin commands that are invoked as part of a pipeline are also executed in a subshell environment. Changes made to the subshell environment cannot affect the shell's execution environment.
When a program is invoked it is given an array of strings called the environment . This is a list of name-value pairs, of the form name=value .
The shell provides several ways to manipulate the environment. On invocation, the shell scans its own environment and creates a parameter for each name found, automatically marking it for export to child processes. Executed commands inherit the environment. The export and declare -x commands allow parameters and functions to be added to and deleted from the environment. If the value of a parameter in the environment is modified, the new value becomes part of the environment, replacing the old. The environment inherited by any executed command consists of the shell's initial environment, whose values may be modified in the shell, less any pairs removed by the unset command, plus any additions via the export and declare -x commands.
The environment for any simple command or function may be augmented temporarily by prefixing it with parameter assignments, as described above in PARAMETERS . These assignment statements affect only the environment seen by that command.
If the -k option is set (see the set builtin command below), then all parameter assignments are placed in the environment for a command, not just those that precede the command name.
When bash invokes an external command, the variable _ is set to the full file name of the command and passed to that command in its environment.
For the shell's purposes, a command which exits with a zero exit status has succeeded. An exit status of zero indicates success. A non-zero exit status indicates failure. When a command terminates on a fatal signal N, bash uses the value of 128+N as the exit status.
If a command is not found, the child process created to execute it returns a status of 127. If a command is found but is not executable, the return status is 126.
If a command fails because of an error during expansion or redirection, the exit status is greater than zero.
Shell builtin commands return a status of 0 (true) if successful, and non-zero (false) if an error occurs while they execute. All builtins return an exit status of 2 to indicate incorrect usage.
Bash itself returns the exit status of the last command executed, unless a syntax error occurs, in which case it exits with a non-zero value. See also the exit builtin command below.
When bash is interactive, in the absence of any traps, it ignores SIGTERM (so that kill 0 does not kill an interactive shell), and SIGINT is caught and handled (so that the wait builtin is interruptible). In all cases, bash ignores SIGQUIT. If job control is in effect, bash ignores SIGTTIN, SIGTTOU, and SIGTSTP.
Synchronous jobs started by bash have signal handlers set to the values inherited by the shell from its parent. When job control is not in effect, asynchronous commands ignore SIGINT and SIGQUIT as well. Commands run as a result of command substitution ignore the keyboard-generated job control signals SIGTTIN, SIGTTOU, and SIGTSTP.
The shell exits by default upon receipt of a SIGHUP. Before exiting, it resends the SIGHUP to all jobs, running or stopped. Stopped jobs are sent SIGCONT to ensure that they receive the SIGHUP. To prevent the shell from sending the signal to a particular job, it should be removed from the jobs table with the disown builtin (see SHELL BUILTIN COMMANDS below) or marked to not receive SIGHUP using disown -h .
If the huponexit shell option has been set with shopt , bash sends a SIGHUP to all jobs when an interactive login shell exits.
When bash receives a signal for which a trap has been set while waiting for a command to complete, the trap will not be executed until the command completes. When bash is waiting for an asynchronous command via the wait builtin, the reception of a signal for which a trap has been set will cause the wait builtin to return immediately with an exit status greater than 128, immediately after which the trap is executed.
Job control refers to the ability to selectively stop (suspend) the execution of processes and continue (resume) their execution at a later point. A user typically employs this facility via an interactive interface supplied jointly by the system's terminal driver and bash .
indicating that this job is job number 1 and that the process ID of the last process in the pipeline associated with this job is 25647. All of the processes in a single pipeline are members of the same job. Bash uses the job abstraction as the basis for job control.
To facilitate the implementation of the user interface to job control, the operating system maintains the notion of a current terminal process group ID. Members of this process group (processes whose process group ID is equal to the current terminal process group ID) receive keyboard-generated signals such as SIGINT. These processes are said to be in the foreground . Background'' processes are those whose process group ID differs from the terminal's; such processes are immune to keyboard-generated signals. Only foreground processes are allowed to read from or write to the terminal. Background processes which attempt to read from (write to) the terminal are sent a SIGTTIN (SIGTTOU) signal by the terminal driver, which, unless caught, suspends the process.
If the operating system on which bash is running supports job control, bash contains facilities to use it. Typing the suspend character (typically ^Z , Control-Z) while a process is running causes that process to be stopped and returns control to bash . Typing the delayed suspend character (typically ^Y , Control-Y) causes the process to be stopped when it attempts to read input from the terminal, and control to be returned to bash . The user may then manipulate the state of this job, using the bg command to continue it in the background, the fg command to continue it in the foreground, or the kill command to kill it. A ^Z takes effect immediately, and has the additional side effect of causing pending output and typeahead to be discarded.
There are a number of ways to refer to a job in the shell. The character % introduces a job name. Job number n may be referred to as %n . A job may also be referred to using a prefix of the name used to start it, or using a substring that appears in its command line. For example, %ce refers to a stopped ce job. If a prefix matches more than one job, bash reports an error. Using %?ce , on the other hand, refers to any job containing the string ce in its command line. If the substring matches more than one job, bash reports an error. The symbols %% and %+ refer to the shell's notion of the current job , which is the last job stopped while it was in the foreground or started in the background. The previous job may be referenced using %- . In output pertaining to jobs (e.g., the output of the jobs command), the current job is always flagged with a + , and the previous job with a - .
Simply naming a job can be used to bring it into the foreground: %1 is a synonym for "fg %1", bringing job 1 from the background into the foreground. Similarly, %1 & resumes job 1 in the background, equivalent to "bg %1".
The shell learns immediately whenever a job changes state. Normally, bash waits until it is about to print a prompt before reporting changes in a job's status so as to not interrupt any other output. If the -b option to the set builtin command is enabled, bash reports such changes immediately.
If an attempt to exit bash is made while jobs are stopped, the shell prints a warning message. The jobs command may then be used to inspect their status. If a second attempt to exit is made without an intervening command, the shell does not print another warning, and the stopped jobs are terminated.
When executing interactively, bash displays the primary prompt PS1 when it is ready to read a command, and the secondary prompt PS2 when it needs more input to complete a command. Bash allows these prompt strings to be customized by inserting a number of backslash-escaped special characters that are decoded as follows:
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