7.1. Test Constructs

Example 7-1. What is truth?

#!/bin/bash # Tip: # If you're unsure of how a certain condition would evaluate, #+ test it in an if-test. echo echo "Testing \"0\"" if [ 0 ] # zero then echo "0 is true." else # Or else ... echo "0 is false." fi # 0 is true. echo echo "Testing \"1\"" if [ 1 ] # one then echo "1 is true." else echo "1 is false." fi # 1 is true. echo echo "Testing \"-1\"" if [ -1 ] # minus one then echo "-1 is true." else echo "-1 is false." fi # -1 is true. echo echo "Testing \"NULL\"" if [ ] # NULL (empty condition) then echo "NULL is true." else echo "NULL is false." fi # NULL is false. echo echo "Testing \"xyz\"" if [ xyz ] # string then echo "Random string is true." else echo "Random string is false." fi # Random string is true. echo echo "Testing \"\$xyz\"" if [ $xyz ] # Tests if $xyz is null, but... # it's only an uninitialized variable. then echo "Uninitialized variable is true." else echo "Uninitialized variable is false." fi # Uninitialized variable is false. echo echo "Testing \"-n \$xyz\"" if [ -n "$xyz" ] # More pedantically correct. then echo "Uninitialized variable is true." else echo "Uninitialized variable is false." fi # Uninitialized variable is false. echo xyz= # Initialized, but set to null value. echo "Testing \"-n \$xyz\"" if [ -n "$xyz" ] then echo "Null variable is true." else echo "Null variable is false." fi # Null variable is false. echo # When is "false" true? echo "Testing \"false\"" if [ "false" ] # It seems that "false" is just a string. then echo "\"false\" is true." #+ and it tests true. else echo "\"false\" is false." fi # "false" is true. echo echo "Testing \"\$false\"" # Again, uninitialized variable. if [ "$false" ] then echo "\"\$false\" is true." else echo "\"\$false\" is false." fi # "$false" is false. # Now, we get the expected result. # What would happen if we tested the uninitialized variable "$true"? echo exit 0

Exercise. Explain the behavior of Example 7-1, above.

if [ condition-true ] then command 1 command 2 ... else # Or else ... # Adds default code block executing if original condition tests false. command 3 command 4 ... fi

Note

When if and then are on same line in a condition test, a semicolon must terminate the if statement. Both if and then are keywords. Keywords (or commands) begin statements, and before a new statement on the same line begins, the old one must terminate.

if [ -x "$filename" ]; then

Else if and elif

elif

elif is a contraction for else if. The effect is to nest an inner if/then construct within an outer one.

if [ condition1 ] then command1 command2 command3 elif [ condition2 ] # Same as else if then command4 command5 else default-command fi

The if test condition-true construct is the exact equivalent of if [ condition-true ]. As it happens, the left bracket, [ , is a token which invokes the test command. The closing right bracket, ] , in an if/test should not therefore be strictly necessary, however newer versions of Bash require it.

Note

The test command is a Bash builtin which tests file types and compares strings. Therefore, in a Bash script, test does not call the external /usr/bin/test binary, which is part of the sh-utils package. Likewise, [ does not call /usr/bin/[, which is linked to /usr/bin/test.

bash$ type test test is a shell builtin bash$ type '[' [ is a shell builtin bash$ type '[[' [[ is a shell keyword bash$ type ']]' ]] is a shell keyword bash$ type ']' bash: type: ]: not found 

If, for some reason, you wish to use /usr/bin/test in a Bash script, then specify it by full pathname.

Example 7-2. Equivalence of test, /usr/bin/test, [ ], and /usr/bin/[

#!/bin/bash echo if test -z "$1" then echo "No command-line arguments." else echo "First command-line argument is $1." fi echo if /usr/bin/test -z "$1" # Equivalent to "test" builtin. # ^^^^^^^^^^^^^ # Specifying full pathname. then echo "No command-line arguments." else echo "First command-line argument is $1." fi echo if [ -z "$1" ] # Functionally identical to above code blocks. # if [ -z "$1" should work, but... #+ Bash responds to a missing close-bracket with an error message. then echo "No command-line arguments." else echo "First command-line argument is $1." fi echo if /usr/bin/[ -z "$1" ] # Again, functionally identical to above. # if /usr/bin/[ -z "$1" # Works, but gives an error message. # # Note: # This has been fixed in Bash, version 3.x. then echo "No command-line arguments." else echo "First command-line argument is $1." fi echo exit 0

Note

Following an if, neither the test command nor the test brackets ( [ ] or [[ ]] ) are strictly necessary.
dir=/home/bozo if cd "$dir" 2>/dev/null; then # "2>/dev/null" hides error message. echo "Now in $dir." else echo "Can't change to $dir." fi
The "if COMMAND" construct returns the exit status of COMMAND.

Similarly, a condition within test brackets may stand alone without an if, when used in combination with a list construct.
var1=20 var2=22 [ "$var1" -ne "$var2" ] && echo "$var1 is not equal to $var2" home=/home/bozo [ -d "$home" ] || echo "$home directory does not exist."

The (( )) construct expands and evaluates an arithmetic expression. If the expression evaluates as zero, it returns an exit status of 1, or "false". A non-zero expression returns an exit status of 0, or "true". This is in marked contrast to using the test and [ ] constructs previously discussed.

Example 7-3. Arithmetic Tests using (( ))

#!/bin/bash # Arithmetic tests. # The (( ... )) construct evaluates and tests numerical expressions. # Exit status opposite from [ ... ] construct! (( 0 )) echo "Exit status of \"(( 0 ))\" is $?." # 1 (( 1 )) echo "Exit status of \"(( 1 ))\" is $?." # 0 (( 5 > 4 )) # true echo "Exit status of \"(( 5 > 4 ))\" is $?." # 0 (( 5 > 9 )) # false echo "Exit status of \"(( 5 > 9 ))\" is $?." # 1 (( 5 - 5 )) # 0 echo "Exit status of \"(( 5 - 5 ))\" is $?." # 1 (( 5 / 4 )) # Division o.k. echo "Exit status of \"(( 5 / 4 ))\" is $?." # 0 (( 1 / 2 )) # Division result < 1. echo "Exit status of \"(( 1 / 2 ))\" is $?." # Rounded off to 0. # 1 (( 1 / 0 )) 2>/dev/null # Illegal division by 0. # ^^^^^^^^^^^ echo "Exit status of \"(( 1 / 0 ))\" is $?." # 1 # What effect does the "2>/dev/null" have? # What would happen if it were removed? # Try removing it, then rerunning the script. # ======================================= # # (( ... )) also useful in an if-then test. var1=5 var2=4 if (( var1 > var2 )) then #^ ^ Note: Not $var1, $var2. Why? echo "$var1 is greater than $var2" fi # 5 is greater than 4 exit 0