Shellscripting: Conditional Execution

Darkø Tasevski on August 15, 2018

This is the second part of the series on Shellscripting. In case you've missed it, you can find the first part here. Also, note that the most ... [Read Full]
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I really enjoy using conditions in one-liners with shell:

# if file exists, source it
[ -f $HOME/.env-local ] && source $HOME/.env-local

# if directory doesn't exist, create it
[ -d ./test ] || mkdir ./test

As far as I remember, case does not use regex, but globbing. Similar, but different enough to make you scratch your head when something is not working.
If you need regex, nested if with =~ is the way to go.


I really like exit codes
var = $(echo "$((2+2))") & export haspid=$!
echo "$var" | grep 4
if [ $? -eq 0 ] ; then
echo "has num 4 and pid was $haspid"
echo "bash can't add"

Bourne Again SH
Almquist SH
or just Shell
are pretty much the standard as I see it.

I have had to use ksh and csh, just diff formatting...

Plus another vote to bring back t9word and Remove autocorrect


You should use exit statuses directly, not via $?. Like

if command ; then stuff ; fi

Shorter, and save from accidentally picking up the wrong exit code.

Also var = $(echo "$((2+2))") spawns two sub shells, where you only need one: var=$((2+2))


I make it a practice to always use echo and double quotes so that everything inside is resolved like the variables and maybe it is overkill but it is due to habit and also errors that I have seen that come up not using that way in various enviornments

And again putting the
if command;

May lead to again problems with variables and escaping of escapable characters.

Escaping and variables plus nested commands is why I do both practices,.

It's not just overkill, it's useless, and it might have some nasty side effects, too. Here's some more explanation:

If you're having trouble with your variables and escaping characters, you could always fun it in a sub shell and use that error code in the if construct. You're making it overly complicated, and prone to errors.

Idk why everyone has to argue shit on the internet, your own citations says that using echo has its places, and I use what works for me... Not making it complicated just making something that I know works... Just because there is something that also works doesn't make how mine worked wrong...


Thanks for you post. It's very clear and usefully.
I think that here you have a bit error:


if ["$MY_SHELL" = "zsh"]
        echo "You are the zsh shell user!"

You forget the space after an before [].

Sorry by my english.


Much of this will behave unexpectedly on the C shell which is the standard shell on BSD.


I guess that I need to state that the most of this stuff is intended for the bash shell. I don't know many people that use csh/tcsh anyway :/


That wasn't clear, especially after the first part which recommended to use #!/bin/sh...

Gonna address that later, thanks for the advice! I've never used BSD nor csh before, so I'm not that familiar with differences between distros and shells, as I'm almost exclusively using bash/zsh for my job.

This table might help. The ksh (AIX/OpenBSD default shell) does not differ that much from POSIX, the csh does.

  • sh: the basics, POSIX standard
  • ash: reimplementation of sh
  • dash: port of ash
  • ksh: extensions on top of sh
  • bash: massive extensions on top of sh (mostly a superset of ksh's)
  • zsh: massive extensions on top of sh but different ones to bash

  • csh: a completely different shell to sh, contemporary in origin, mostly different syntax

  • tcsh: extensions on top of csh

  • fish: a completely different shell again, cut-down syntax and features mostly targeted at interactive users

So, yeah, it's important to specify which shell you're targeting.

Thanks for the info. I've updated the posts with shell reqs. 😊

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