Shell Redirect, cat as editor, other tricks & bug examples

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Shell Redirect, cat as editor, other tricks & bug examples

Post#1 by Rava » 14 Apr 2015, 17:17

Standard in, out, and error

There are three standard sources of input and output for a program. Standard input usually comes from the keyboard if it’s an interactive program, or from another program if it’s processing the other program’s output. The program usually prints to standard output, and sometimes prints to standard error. These three file descriptors (you can think of them as “data pipes”) are often called STDIN, STDOUT, and STDERR.

Sometimes they’re not named, they’re numbered! The built-in numberings for them are 0, 1, and 2, in that order. By default, if you don’t name or number one explicitly, you’re talking about STDOUT.

So 2>&1 redirects stderr to whatever stdout currently points at, while 2>1 redirects stderr into a file called 1 (what you probably don't want)

Also, the redirects happen in order. So if you say 2>&1 >/dev/null, it redirects stderr to point at what stdout currently points at (which is probably a noop), then redirects stdout to /dev/null. You probably want >/dev/null 2>&1

HTH!

Sources:
http://www.xaprb.com/blog/2006/06/06/wh ... l-21-mean/
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/9390 ... 1-dev-null
Cheers!
Yours Rava

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Shell Redirect

Post#2 by Ed_P » 17 Apr 2015, 04:42

Wow!! Thank you Image Rava. I appreciate the time you took to explain that to me. :friends:
Ed

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Shell Redirect

Post#3 by Bogomips » 17 Apr 2015, 13:09

@Rava

Thanks for the references. Still trying to get my head round that obtuse terminology.

Update

So it seems one has to treat each '>' as a kind of directive, executed in sequential order. And to be quite pedantic:

Code: Select all

guest@porteus:~$ ls /tmp 1>/dev/null 1>t
guest@porteus:~$ cat t
dump.log
kde-guest/
ksocket-guest/
usm/
guest@porteus:~$ ls /tmp 1>t 1>/dev/null
guest@porteus:~$ cat t
guest@porteus:~$ ls -l t
-rw-r--r-- 1 guest guest 0 Apr 17 20:15 t
8)
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Shell Redirect

Post#4 by Rava » 28 Apr 2015, 00:22

You have to first realize that the redirect of either STDERR or STDOUT to the other, and then "both" into the data nirvana /dev/null is not the same as putting something into a file.

Redirect into a file is always >filename, be it a "real" filename, or one from /dev.
The /dev ones can also be uses to read from,. like reading zeros to fill a file from /dev/zero, or reading random data like /dev/random or /dev/urandom...
(/dev/random and /dev/urandom do differ, look it up!)

But when you have to discard both STDERR and STDOUT you have to use the >&, without the & it is just a redirect into a file.
Bogomips wrote:So it seems one has to treat each '>' as a kind of directive, executed in sequential order.
That's right so far.

It is more complex. Like I wrote:
2>&1 redirects stderr to whatever stdout currently points at, while 2>1 redirects stderr into a file called 1 (what you probably don't want)
So, you have to know what you want. echo "test" >file is either deleting the contents of an already existing file named "file", and putting in the new line "test", or, when not existing, creating a new file and then writes "test" into it.

In contrast to that, echo "test" >>file is appending the stuff to the end of a file, often needed when you, like, write a log file. You sure not want a new entry single line to delete all existing data in the one and only log file of your script!

Try looking for bash script tutorials, there are quite some online, and just try out all the examples. There are a few free O'Reilly books out there, with the examples as scripts in online downloadable archives even.

The best way to learn is to play around with the stuff...
ls /tmp 1>/dev/null 1>t
This is just writing the STDOUT of your program into two files, into the real file "t", and also into the "garbage" device, which would make no sense in the above context.

When you have to write some output into several log files, but not all output into the same logfiles, you could have stuff like so:

ls /tmp >/tmp/programme$$/log1 >>/tmp/programme$$/log2
ls /whatever >/tmp/programme$$/log1
ls /whatever2 >/tmp/programme$$/log2
[...]

(The "$$" part is quite handy, since it will be replaced with the program ID of your script, and so make an unique file name or folder name, important when a script uses a file to store some data to later read from, it would result in bugs and stuff when the script is started more than once and all these instances try to read and write from the same file!)

Remember, you not need the 1>file-name when you have not altered any STDERR or STDOUT since writing nothing here is always addressing STDOUT.
I recommend you to learn that, it can be added, but often it is not, and it helps you better read and understand the scripts of others

HTH :wink:
Cheers!
Yours Rava

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Shell Redirect

Post#5 by Bogomips » 30 Apr 2015, 01:17

Rava wrote:The best way to learn is to play around with the stuff...
ls /tmp 1>/dev/null 1>t
This is just writing the STDOUT of your program into two files, into the real file "t", and also into the "garbage" device, which would make no sense in the above context.
That was an experiment :), but my contention is that it is not writing into 2 files, but just into the 1 file.

Now, further experiment in support of contention:

Code: Select all

guest@porteus:~$ ls -sh g h f
32K f  12K g  20K h
guest@porteus:~$ cat g 1>s
guest@porteus:~$ cat h 1>t
guest@porteus:~$ ls -sh s t
12K s  20K t
guest@porteus:~$ cat f 1>s 1>t
guest@porteus:~$ ls -sh s t
  0 s  32K t
It seems clear that we are not writing to two files, and that with the first redirect the file s is opened for writing with truncate, then the second redirect is processed and the file t is written to, which means that STDOUT remains pointed at t, and no longer has anything to do with s. Is this what was meant in the above quote, that two files were being written to?
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Shell redirect, cat as editor, other tricks & bug examples

Post#6 by Rava » 30 Apr 2015, 02:51

Bogomips wrote:It seems clear that we are not writing to two files, and that with the first redirect the file s is opened for writing with truncate, then the second redirect is processed and the file t is written to, which means that STDOUT remains pointed at t, and no longer has anything to do with s. Is this what was meant in the above quote, that two files were being written to?
What you do is not redirecting INPUT or OUTPUT streams, but copying / writing data into files.
There is a huge difference between redirection of STDERR, STDOUT (or STDIN, that is, e.g. via "<") like letting STDERR direct to where STDIN is directing ATM.


Sadly, writing data into files is also called "redirect", that's making it not any easier, can be a source of confusion.


The issue is, all the above is just what you told bash to do.


With cat FILE > ANOTHER-FILE you write all data of FILE into ANOTHER-FILE.

With cat FILE >>ANOTHER-FILE you append the data from FILE to the end of ANOTHER-FILE.


Here some examples:

Code: Select all

rava@porteus:/tmp$ type l
l is aliased to `ls -oa --color=auto --time-style=long-iso'
rava@porteus:/tmp$ echo jgdsjgsdjghds >1
rava@porteus:/tmp$ echo kjhdskjlhkjhshkdgsuzsdhsdflöjsksgjsdg>2
rava@porteus:/tmp$ l 1 2
-rw-r--r-- 1 rava 14 2015-04-30 03:54 1
-rw-r--r-- 1 rava 39 2015-04-30 03:54 2
rava@porteus:/tmp$ cat 1>3
^Z
[1]+  Stopped
rava@porteus:/tmp$ cat 1 >3
rava@porteus:/tmp$ l 1 2 3
-rw-r--r-- 1 rava 14 2015-04-30 03:54 1
-rw-r--r-- 1 rava 39 2015-04-30 03:54 2
-rw-r--r-- 1 rava 14 2015-04-30 03:54 3
rava@porteus:/tmp$ echo jgsdjgd>>3
rava@porteus:/tmp$ l 1 2 3
-rw-r--r-- 1 rava 14 2015-04-30 03:54 1
-rw-r--r-- 1 rava 39 2015-04-30 03:54 2
-rw-r--r-- 1 rava 22 2015-04-30 03:55 3
rava@porteus:/tmp$ cat 1 2 3 >4
rava@porteus:/tmp$ l 1 2 3 4
-rw-r--r-- 1 rava 14 2015-04-30 03:54 1
-rw-r--r-- 1 rava 39 2015-04-30 03:54 2
-rw-r--r-- 1 rava 22 2015-04-30 03:55 3
-rw-r--r-- 1 rava 75 2015-04-30 03:55 4
Do you get it all? You could also use that for calculations. Like, is bash right, is 14+39+22 really 75? :) :lol:

Joking aside, back to serious business:

What happened with the line "cat 1>3" ?
Why did it wait and I had to send the cat into sleep? [and later kill it]

Cause that was not about cat FILE (named "1"), but redirect STDOUT (also known as "1", see above post) of the program cat into a file. And since I gave cat no data (no STDIN) to put into the file "3", the cat waited for some input. See

Code: Select all

# man cat
for more info.

Also, the above is an example of a simple missing white space (let's assume you or a colleague of yours made that by mistake) makes the script buggy. But only that one line. If the script is full of case do done elif else and such, it could be that the above code is not to be found at once. Could be, the line only gets executed in an OS environment, or with another sound card than you have, or whatever different architecture than yours, then the bug would affect all users with that arch or sound card, but never you (or your assumed colleague)
Coding is great, when there are no bugs, and can get nasty where there are ones. :beer:


But that is the same with any coding, be it shell or higher languages like C or Perl or Python. One single wrong character could create a disaster. Like, not erasing some temp files and folders, but erasing all files from all mounted devices..., in the end killing the whole running OS. [When the buggy script was started by root)

____________________________________________________________

With the cat trick (not to be confused with a hat trick </lame pun is:lame>), you can create your first easy and self-coded text editor like so:

Code: Select all

rava@porteus:/tmp$ cat 1>5
Line One
Line Two
A one two three four...
Busted flat in Baton Rouge, hmmm, heading for the trains
Feelin' near as faded as my jeans
EOF
^C
rava@porteus:/tmp$ l 5
-rw-r--r-- 1 rava 137 2015-04-30 04:00 5
rava@porteus:/tmp$ cat 5
Line One
Line Two
A one two three four...
Busted flat in Baton Rouge, hmmm, heading for the trains
Feelin' near as faded as my jeans
EOF
The above cat trick can be useful when the new OS you try not starts up, and you are then put into a minimal shell and you are not familiar with the editor that shell gives you (aka: "WTF is with that vi! I cannot even quit that darn thing!" [vi is my favourite when it comes to the old fight between vim and emacs... just saying. Nowadays I prefer mcedit, the internal editor of mc, cause it has syntax highlighting! And that's neat.
But when another Linux has no mc installed, I use vim. Aka knowing what "<esc>:wq" is about. Or "<esc>q!" at times. :)
Info: Current Porteus not use vim, but the smaller implementation of busybox. Also, there is no "vim" to be found in current Porteus, just a link from "vi" to busybox.
That's how busybox works, it looks how it was called, and then acts like the program would, enabling it with just one program acting as many, like vi, ls, cat, grep... And since symlinks almost use no disk space at all it is to be used for all super small systems. [*]

Also, when you start coding in earnest, start using geany! Syntax highlighting makes coding fun! And easier to debug!

But back to the example of the failed boot of a new to you OS. You still want to write some findings and your thoughts or why the boot failed, and what you want to try next. With the above cat trick you still can create a file, writing text into it.

Just be aware that when you want to add even more lines, not use cat 1>info, cause that deletes all you put into file "info", you have to use cat 1>>info

Code: Select all

rava@porteus:/tmp$ cat 1>info
line 1
line 2
^C
rava@porteus:/tmp$ l info 
-rw-r--r-- 1 rava 14 2015-04-30 04:54 info
rava@porteus:/tmp$ cat info
line 1
line 2
rava@porteus:/tmp$ cat 1>info
line 3
line 4
^C
rava@porteus:/tmp$ cat info
line 3
line 4
rava@porteus:/tmp$ cat 1>info
line 1
line 2
^C
rava@porteus:/tmp$ cat 1>>info
line 3 
line 4
^C
rava@porteus:/tmp$ cat info
line 1
line 2
line 3
line 4
Back to the example above, EOF not works here as one might want it to work. Coders and programmers still use "EOF" for coding, but you have to tell the script (or the CLI) what EOF means, like so:

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#!/bin/sh

# [...]

echo -en ${bld}${blu}
cat <<EOF
[...]
mount -o loop,offset=307200 /path/cd.nrg /mnt/mountpoint <- not works for Nero cddb-Images, only for Nero's own kind of data ISO images!
EOF
The above code would just print the lines between the cat <<EOF and the EOF just by itself, I use such scripts for all kinds of tweaks and hints to programs that I am often too lazy to completely remember, therefore I have quite some collected, named like help.PROGRAMNAME, while the above example sure would be: help.mount

What's with the bld and blu stuff in the example?

${bld} ${blu} and some others are escape code for colour, bold and such. Just the escape Sequence I named accordingly for coding convenience.

I created a file that defines these "code" colours and include it into scripts with that line:
test ! "$ECHO_COLORS"x = "x" && test -f $ECHO_COLORS && . $ECHO_COLORS

Of course, $ECHO_COLORS has to be known to the shell, or else the above would fail. (${bld} and such then all would be empty and just make nothing, no harm done, just no colours for my script...
I once needed to partition a laptop hardisk, and since that laptop was not able to star5t an OS from USB, I had to run gparted Live CD. But that got no write permission into /usr/local/bin [it was part of it's live CD ISO for it's program's and own tweaks, sure not the way it should have been, /usr/local is, like the name says, Unix System Resource / Local, for the local machine, the current user to be used... making sub-folders of /usr/local read-only breaks the meaning of what /usr/local should be for. *shrug*
But I still wanted my scripts to have colour, so I had to change my hard coded insert of /usr/local/bin/echo_colors into something more flexible.

Prior to having the need for the parted ISO, I mainly used Slax [Slax remix was not born at that time, that came later, and we all know into what neat OS Slack remix then evolved, yes? :) ], and I put my own scripts (and one lone C program, with coding help of a good friend, at least I was able to debug his code into doing correctly what it should do...] where my echo_colors file for including usually is), like I said, all my coloured scripts would fail. Just fail with displaying colours, that is, but still.

How did I change my old hard coded approach? I changed it into one that includes echo_colors wher ever it might be, for any Linux to be used, and now I only have to change the path to /usr/local/bin/echo_colors if such Linux not supports "/usb" ...

That line makes echo_colors known to my scripts:

Code: Select all

#grep /etc/profile* ECHO_COLORS
profile.local:ECHO_COLORS=/usr/local/bin/echo.colors
Why do I have / use a /etc/profile.local one might ask?

To keep my own code separated from the code of standard Porteus. Also, by that I could port my own code more easy into any other Linux.

Sure I need to add a line into /etc/profile to make that work, like so:

Code: Select all

 tail -n 4 /etc/profile
## ## Rava addition: yes, we want to use a /etc/profile.local ^-^
if [ -f /etc/profile.local ];then
    . /etc/profile.local
fi
And that above comment is not made up by me, I really wrote that, back some years ago, like you see it in the snippet above. </Rava having weird sense of humour>

_________________________________________________________

But honestly, re-reading my above post, it really looks like me being some kind of nutty professor </yet another lame pun about a famous movie, this time> teacher, sorry for that. I could have structured it all way better, but I am too tired and too lazy to subedit all my above post to make it into one proper howto article. :oops:

___________________
[*] Linux uses just the length of the target file, to which the symlink shows.
You can even store info (text) without using any disk space. How so? Just use an empty file and put in the info you wanted as the file's file name.
Cheers!
Yours Rava

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Re: Shell Redirect, cat as editor, other tricks & bug exampl

Post#7 by Bogomips » 09 May 2015, 12:48

Another cat trick has occurred to me. Appending to file in script:

Code: Select all

Instead of:
guest@porteus:~$ [[ -f t ]] && rm t
guest@porteus:~$ ls -l t
/bin/ls: cannot access t: No such file or directory
Use:
guest@porteus:~$ cat /dev/null>t
guest@porteus:~$ ls -l t
-rw-r--r-- 1 guest guest 0 May  9 14:45 t
guest@porteus:~$ ls /tmp>>t
guest@porteus:~$ ls -l t
-rw-r--r-- 1 guest guest 40 May  9 14:46 t
guest@porteus:~$ cat /dev/null>t
guest@porteus:~$ ls -l t
-rw-r--r-- 1 guest guest 0 May  9 14:46 t
guest@porteus:~$ ls /tmp>>t
guest@porteus:~$ ls -l t
-rw-r--r-- 1 guest guest 40 May  9 14:46 t
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Re: Shell Redirect, cat as editor, other tricks & bug exampl

Post#8 by Rava » 09 May 2015, 14:36

... but, you don't have to use /dev/null to explicit empty a file.

If you want to empty your logfile, just use echo "whatever info" >/tmp/log$$
using Just a single ">" always empties the contents of the file, while >> always appends.

So, when you need a clean file to put info in it, just use ">" when first writing into the file.

BTW, the "$$" as part of a filename above only makes sense when used in a script, as it will be expanded into the process ID. As run by bash or another CLI, the $$ would expand into a new number every time.

(Using /tmp/whatever$$ is not 100% failsafe, but way better than having a script writing to just /tmp/whatever . Just remember to delete all temp files prior exiting the script.)
Cheers!
Yours Rava

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Re: Shell Redirect, cat as editor, other tricks & bug exampl

Post#9 by Bogomips » 09 May 2015, 15:46

The situation being addressed, mainly concerning data files, being one where somewhere further down in the code there is a loop in which a file is appended to using only >>. At some stage file has to be initialised, otherwise will be appending to rubbish.

Or file can be appended to from different places in code, and we don't know where first write to file could take place. :unknown:
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Re: Shell Redirect, cat as editor, other tricks & bug exampl

Post#10 by Rava » 11 May 2015, 06:36

^
Okay, valid ideas.Still, a "echo -n >/tmp/whatever" will do the same. :)
Cheers!
Yours Rava

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