Random Wisdom

Tag: bash

Create links with absolute paths in Linux

by on Jan.16, 2010, under How To ..., Linux, Software

The default behaviour of the linking command (ln) is a little strange under certain circumstances. Since it creates the links using the literal value of the target, symbolic links created using relative path structures can often fail. Consider the following:

$ ln -s targetfile ../src/targetfile_link

Without a doubt, ‘targetfile_link’ will be a broken symlink since it links to a target that it assumes is in the same directory:

$ cd ../src && ls -l targetfile_link
lrwxrwxrwx 1 mafgani mafgani 5 2010-01-16 18:19 targetfile_link -> targetfile

This is quite unfortunate since it clearly clashes with the way that the linking mechanism should work intuitively.

The solution is to force ln into automatically appending the absolute path to the target files. This can be achieved by using a simple shell script that acts as a wrapper for the real linking command:


# Step through the supplied arguments and append the absolute
# path to targets that exist
for ARG in $@
  if [ -e $ARG ]; then
    LNARGS="${LNARGS} ${PWD}/${ARG}";
    LNARGS="${LNARGS} ${ARG}";

# Execute the actual link command with the modified args
exec /bin/ln ${LNARGS};

There are two known caveats:

  • The link is ‘sub-optimal’ if created from within the destination directory (the absolute path contains ‘../’s). It will still work however.
  • The links will always be absolute. If that is undesirable, save the script as ‘absln’ or something other than ‘ln’.

Using ‘absln’ instead of ‘ln’ in the previously described scenario now produces a working symlink:

$ absln -s targetfile ../src/targetfile_link
$ cd ../src/ && ls -l targetfile_link
lrwxrwxrwx 1 mafgani mafgani 16 2010-01-16 19:13 targetfile_link -> /tmp/files/targetfile
1 Comment :, , , , , more...

Bash process substitution

by on Oct.03, 2008, under Linux, Software

From the Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide:

“Piping the stdout of a command into the stdin of another is a powerful technique. But, what if you need to pipe the stdout of multiple commands? This is where process substitution comes in.

Process substitution feeds the output of a process (or processes) into the stdin of another process.”

The syntax is:


Example: comparing the head of two files using diff

$ diff -u <(head -n3 /var/log/dmesg) <(head -n3 /tmp/dmesg)
--- /proc/self/fd/63 2009-05-26 19:52:45.144544140 +0100
+++ /proc/self/fd/62 2009-05-26 19:52:45.149544007 +0100
@@ -1,3 +1,3 @@
-Initializing cgroup subsys cpuset
-Initializing cgroup subsys cpu
-Linux version (mockbuild@xenbuilder2.fedora.redhat.com)
 (gcc version 4.3.2 20081105 (Red Hat 4.3.2-7) (GCC) )
 #1 SMP Mon Mar 23 23:37:54 EDT 2009
+Linux version (brewbuilder@hs20-bc2-4.build.redhat.com)
 (gcc version 4.1.2 20070626 (Red Hat 4.1.2-13))
 #1 SMP Thu Sep 27 18:48:03 EDT 2007
+BIOS-provided physical RAM map:
+ BIOS-e820: 0000000000000000 - 000000000009f000 (usable)

The diff header clearly shows that file descriptors are used as the underlying mechanism.

Leave a Comment :, , more...

BASH as a simple calculator

by on Sep.25, 2006, under How To ..., Linux, Software

As long as you are satisfied with integer results:

[darkknight@darkworld ~]$ echo $[32 * 98]
[darkknight@darkworld ~]$ echo $[332 / 98]
[darkknight@darkworld ~]$ echo $[29 + 56]
[darkknight@darkworld ~]$ echo $[29 - 156]

For full precision, one can use bc:

$ bc -l
bc 1.06
Copyright 1991-1994, 1997, 1998, 2000 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.
For details type `warranty'. 
7 Comments :, , more...

Creating directory hierarchies in bash

by on Jul.16, 2006, under How To ..., Linux, Software

The BASH ‘brace expansion‘ feature can be used to create whole directory trees using a single command. From the man page for BASH:

Brace Expansion
       Brace expansion is a mechanism by which arbitrary strings may be gener?
       ated.   This  mechanism is similar to pathname expansion, but the file?
       names generated need not exist.  Patterns to be brace expanded take the
       form of an optional preamble, followed by either a series of comma-sep?
       arated strings or a sequence expression between a pair of braces,  fol?
       lowed  by  an  optional  postscript.   The preamble is prefixed to each
       string contained within the braces, and the postscript is then appended
       to each resulting string, expanding left to right.

       Brace  expansions  may  be nested.  The results of each expanded string
       are not sorted;  left  to  right  order  is  preserved.   For  example,
       a{d,c,b}e expands into `ade ace abe'.

       A  sequence  expression takes the form {x..y}, where x and y are either
       integers or single characters.  When integers are supplied, the expres?
       sion  expands  to each number between x and y, inclusive.  When charac?
       ters are supplied, the expression expands  to  each  character  lexico?
       graphically between x and y, inclusive.  Note that both x and y must be
       of the same type.

       Brace expansion is performed before any other expansions, and any char?
       acters  special to other expansions are preserved in the result.  It is
       strictly textual.  Bash does not apply any syntactic interpretation  to
       the context of the expansion or the text between the braces.

       A  correctly-formed  brace  expansion must contain unquoted opening and
       closing braces, and at least one unquoted comma  or  a  valid  sequence
       expression.   Any incorrectly formed brace expansion is left unchanged.
       A { or , may be quoted with a backslash to prevent its being considered
       part  of  a brace expression.  To avoid conflicts with parameter expan?
       sion, the string ${ is not considered eligible for brace expansion.

       This construct is typically used as shorthand when the common prefix of
       the strings to be generated is longer than in the above example:

              mkdir /usr/local/src/bash/{old,new,dist,bugs}
              chown root /usr/{ucb/{ex,edit},lib/{ex?.?*,how_ex}}

       Brace  expansion  introduces  a  slight incompatibility with historical
       versions of sh.  sh does not treat opening or closing braces  specially
       when  they  appear as part of a word, and preserves them in the output.
       Bash removes braces from words as a  consequence  of  brace  expansion.
       For  example,  a word entered to sh as file{1,2} appears identically in
       the output.  The same word is output as file1 file2 after expansion  by
       bash.   If strict compatibility with sh is desired, start bash with the
       +B option or disable brace expansion with the +B option to the set com?
       mand (see SHELL BUILTIN COMMANDS below).

So, for example:

$ mkdir -p root/{1/{1.1,1.2,1.3},2,3/{3.1,3.2/{3.2.1,3.2.2}}}

$ tree
`-- root
    |-- 1
    |   |-- 1.1
    |   |-- 1.2
    |   `-- 1.3
    |-- 2
    `-- 3
        |-- 3.1
        `-- 3.2
            |-- 3.2.1
            `-- 3.2.2

11 directories, 0 files

The ‘-p’ option to mkdir makes it create the parent directories if they do not exist.

Leave a Comment :, more...

Command line search utility

by on Dec.27, 2005, under How To ..., Linux, Software

While studying for one of the finals this year, I felt the need for a CLI search utility that would search on Google, Wikipedia, Google Images, etc. I didn’t know of any tools that would already do this so I decided to write my own little bash script:

#Needs the htmlview package


#Create the search string
until [ -z "$3" ]

case "$opt" in
    "google"  )
    htmlview http://www.google.com/search?hl=en\&q="$str"&btnG=Google+Search &

    "image"   )
    htmlview http://images.google.com/images?q="$str"\&safe=off &

    "wpedia"  )
    htmlview http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search="$str" &

    "scholar" )
    htmlview http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q="$str"\&ie=UTF-8\&oe=UTF-8\&hl=en\&btnG=Search &

    "ieee"    )
    htmlview http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/search/searchresult.jsp?queryText=\%28\%28"$str"\%29\%3Cin\%3Emetadata\%29 &

    *         )
    echo "Usage: search engine searchterm [searchterms]"
    echo "Engines: google    Basic Google websearch"
    echo "         image     Unfiltered Google image search"
    echo "         wpedia    Wikipedia (English)"
    echo "         scholar   Google Scholar"
    echo "         ieee      IEEE Xplore (needs subscription)"
    echo "Example: search image batman"


exit 0

It makes use of the htmlview package to discover the default browser and display the results. The use of the script is quite straightforward:

[darkknight@darkworld bin]$ search image batman begins

As is, it considers all search terms. Fancy things like Boolean expressions are not supported (yet :)). A copy of the script can be found here.

1 Comment :, , more...