Shell Scripting Tutorial
In this tutorial, you’ll learn to automate command line tasks using a shell script. Each line of code in a shell script is a command that could be entered at the command line.
Shell script “hello world”
Shell scripts automate commands. Let’s write a script that counts the number of files and directories in the present working directory.
First, try it manually.
$ ls bin hello hello_css html insta485 insta485generator setup.py tests $ echo "Count of files and folders:" Count of files and folders: $ ls | wc -l 8
Next, create a text file called
lscount and add the following contents. Notice that shell scripts may omit a file extension.
#!/bin/bash # # lscount # # List files and folders, followed by a count # Stop on errors, print commands # See https://vaneyckt.io/posts/safer_bash_scripts_with_set_euxo_pipefail/ set -Eeuo pipefail set -x # List ls # Count echo "Count of files and folders:" ls | wc -l
We can’t yet execute the script because the executable bit is not yet set. The
rw means “Read Write”. Your default permissions may be slightly different.
$ ls -l lscount -rw-rw-r-- 1 awdeorio staff 273 Aug 27 10:15 lscount
Make the script executable. The
rwx mean “Read Write Execute”. Your permissions may be slightly different. As long as you see an
x, you’re good. Further reading about Linux Permissions.
$ chmod +x lscount $ ls -l lscount -rwxrwxr-x 1 awdeorio staff 273 Aug 27 10:15 lscount
Run the script.
$ ./lscount + ls bin hello_css insta485 lscount tests hello html insta485generator setup.py + echo 'Count of files and folders:' Count of files and folders: + ls + wc -l
Shell script pitfalls
Shell scripts have a number of pitfalls. Check for these each time you write a script.
A shell script should be executable, which is a file permission.
A file permissions problem looks like this.
$ ./lscount permission denied: ./lscount
Check if the executable bit is set on your script. There’s an
x missing, which means permission to execute. The
r means permission to read, the
w means permission to write. Further reading about Linux Permissions.
$ ls -l ./lscount -rw-r--r-- 1 tylerphillips staff 0 Oct 2 20:57 insta485script
Add execute permissions.
$ chmod +x lscount
Check for execute permissions, indicated by the
$ ls -l lscount -rwxr-xr-x 1 tylerphillips staff 0 Oct 2 20:57 lscount
Scripts need a special first line, called a shebang. Make sure you didn’t forget it.
$ head -n1 bin/lscount #!/bin/bash
Stop on errors
By default, shell scripts do not stop when an error occurs. Every bash shell script should include this as the first line of code. Here’s why.
set -Eeuo pipefail
Scripts need to have UNIX line endings to work properly. Windows
CRLF line terminators are a problem.
$ ./bin/lscount -bash: ./bin/lscount: /bin/bash^M: bad interpreter: No such file or directory $ file ./bin/lscount bin/lscount: Bourne-Again shell script text executable, ASCII text, with CRLF line terminators
Change Windows line endings to UNIX line endings. Three different ways to do the same thing. You might have to install the
$ dos2unix bin/lscount $ fromdos bin/lscount $ sed -ri 's/\r$//' bin/lscount
This is what a correct script file type looks like:
$ file bin/lscount bin/lscount: Bourne-Again shell script text executable, ASCII text