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Re: Consequences of shell errors

From: Eric Blake
Subject: Re: Consequences of shell errors
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 2015 07:02:46 -0600
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:31.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/31.7.0

On 06/17/2015 04:33 PM, Nick Stoughton wrote:
> I was surprised when the following script did NOT exit at the indicated
> line:
> set -e
> export X=$(false)
> # should not reach here

Why not?

> The export utility is a special built-in, and according to POSIX XCU 2.8.1
> "Consequences of Shell Errors", special built-ins should exit (with a
> diagnostic message) on both variable assignment error and expansion error.

But neither occurred.  Expansion trivially succeeded (expansion errors
are caused by variable expansion under set -u, not by command
substitution with non-zero status), and assignment succeeded (you
assigned the empty string to $X).

And because you did not execute command substitution in isolation, but
instead executed 'export', the $? status of the overall line is 0 (that
of export's successful assignment of nothing to X), not 1 (the
intermediate status of the command substitution).

> But every shell I tested behaves the same way (sh, bash, dash, ksh, mksh,
> yash and zsh), so I feel I must be missing something. Can someone explain
> why the first 2 examples do not exit on the error in the expansion?

Because failed $() can only exit the shell when done in a statement with
no command name.  Your workaround of splitting into:

export X

is the only way to abort a shell under 'set -e' due to a failed command

And this thread goes to show why we strongly recommend against using
'set -e' - it exists for historical practice, and does NOT generally do
what you think it should.

Eric Blake   eblake redhat com    +1-919-301-3266
Libvirt virtualization library http://libvirt.org

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