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sh, builtin, exit, load, loaded, local, whatis, quote, run, set, unload, unquote - command language


sh [ -ilxvn ] [ -c command ] [ file [ arg ... ]


Sh is a programmable user level interface (a shell) for Inferno. It executes command lines read from a terminal or a file or, with the -c flag, from sh's argument list. It can also be used to give programmable functionality to Limbo modules (see sh(2)).

Command Lines
A command line is a sequence of commands, separated by ampersands or semicolons (& or ;), terminated by a newline. The commands are executed in sequence from left to right. Sh does not wait for a command followed by & to finish executing before starting the following command. Whenever a command followed by & is executed, its process id is assigned to the sh variable $apid. Whenever a command not followed by & exits or is terminated, the sh variable $status gets the process's wait message (see prog(3)); it will be the null string if the command was successful.

A number-sign (#) and any following characters up to (but not including) the next newline are ignored, except in quotation marks.

Simple Commands
A simple command is a sequence of arguments interspersed with I/O redirections. If the first argument is the name of a sh builtin or it is a braced command block (see Compound Commands, below), it is executed by sh. If the first character of the name is a brace ({), the shell tries to parse it and execute it as a braced command block; if the parsing fails, an exception is raised. Otherwise sh looks for an external program to execute.

If the name ends in .dis, sh looks for a Dis module of that name; otherwise it tries first to find a Dis module of that name with .dis appended and failing that, it looks for an executable file of the same name, which should be a readable, executable script file. If the name does not start with a slash (/) or dot-slash (./), then the name is first looked for relative to /dis, and then relative to the current directory. A Dis module will be executed only if it implements the Command interface (see sh(1)); a script file will be executed only if it starts with the characters ``#!'' followed by the name of a file executable under the rules above. In this case the command will be executed with any following arguments mentioned in the #! header, followed by the path of the script file, followed by any arguments originally given to the command.

For example, to execute the simple command ls, sh will look for one of the following things, in order, stopping the search when one is found:

a built-in command named ``ls''.

a Dis module named ``/dis/ls.dis'',

an executable script file named ``/dis/ls'',

a Dis module named ``./ls.dis'',

an executable script file named ``./ls''.

Arguments and Variables
A number of constructions may be used where sh's syntax requires an argument to appear. In many cases a construction's value will be a list of arguments rather than a single string.

The simplest kind of argument is the unquoted word: a sequence of one or more characters none of which is a blank, tab, newline, or any of the following:

	# ; & | ^ $ ` ' { } ( ) < > " =
An unquoted word that contains any of the characters * ? [ is a pattern for matching against file names. The character * matches any sequence of characters, ? matches any single character, and [class] matches any character in the class. If the first character of class is ^, the class is complemented. (As this character is special to the shell, it may only be included in a pattern if this character is quoted, as long as the leading [ is not quoted). The class may also contain pairs of characters separated by -, standing for all characters lexically between the two. The character / must appear explicitly in a pattern. A pattern is replaced by a list of arguments, one for each path name matched, except that a pattern matching no names is not replaced by the empty list, but rather stands for itself. Pattern matching is done after all other operations. Thus,
	x=/tmp; echo $x^/*.b
matches /tmp/*.b, rather than matching /*.b and then prefixing /tmp.

A quoted word is a sequence of characters surrounded by single quotes ('). A single quote is represented in a quoted word by a pair of quotes ('').

Each of the following is an argument.

The value of a sequence of arguments enclosed in parentheses is a list comprising the members of each element of the sequence. Argument lists have no recursive structure, although their syntax may suggest it. The following are entirely equivalent:
	echo hi there everybody
	((echo) (hi there) everybody)
	echo (hi
Newlines within parentheses count as simple white space; they do not terminate the command. This can be useful to give some more freedom of layout to commands that take several commands as arguments, for instance several of the commands defined in sh-std(1).
The argument after the $ is the name of a variable whose value is substituted. Multiple levels of indirection are possible. Variable values are lists of strings. If argument is a number n, the value is the nth element of $*, unless $* doesn't have n elements, in which case the value is empty. Assignments to variables are described under Assignment , below.
The value is the number of elements in the named variable. A variable never assigned a value has zero elements.
The value is a single string containing the components of the named variable separated by spaces. A variable with zero elements yields the empty string.

Sh executes the command and reads its standard output. If backquote (`) is used, it is split into a list of arguments, using characters in $ifs as separators. If $ifs is not otherwise set, its value is ' \t\n'. If doublequote (") is used, no tokenization takes place.
The ^ operator concatenates its two operands. If the two operands have the same number of components, they are concatenated pairwise. If not, then one operand must have one component, and the other must be non-empty, and concatenation is distributive.
Command must be a simple command with no redirections; its first word must be the name of a builtin substitution operator. The operator is invoked and its value substituted. See Built-in Commands, below, for more information on builtins.

The command is executed asynchronously with its standard output or standard input connected to a pipe. The value of the argument is the name of a file referring to the other end of the pipe. This allows the construction of non-linear pipelines. For example, the following runs two commands old and new and uses cmp to compare their outputs
	cmp <{old} <{new}

Free Carets
In most circumstances, sh will insert the ^ operator automatically between words that are not separated by white space. Whenever one of $ ' ` follows a quoted or unquoted word or an unquoted word follows a quoted word with no intervening blanks or tabs, a ^ is inserted between the two. If an unquoted word immediately follows a $ and contains a character other than an alphanumeric, underscore, or *, a ^ is inserted before the first such character. Thus

limbo -$flags $stem.b

is equivalent to

limbo -^$flags $stem^.b

A command of the form name=value or name:=value assigns value to the environment variable named name. Value is either a list of arguments or an assignment statement. In the latter case value is taken from the value assigned in the assignment statement. If := is used, the value is stored in the innermost local scope. A local scope is created every time a braced block is entered, and destroyed when the block is left. If = is used, the value is stored in the innermost scope that contains any definition of name.

A list of names can also be used in place of name, which causes each element of value in turn to be assigned the respective variable name in the list. The last variable in the list is assigned any elements that are left over. If there are more variable names than elements in value, the remaining elements are assigned the null list. For instance, after the assignment:

	(a b c) = one two three four five
$a is one, $b is two, and $c contains the remaining three elements (three four five).

I/O Redirections
The sequence >file redirects the standard output file (file descriptor 1, normally the terminal) to the named file; >>file appends standard output to the file. The standard input file (file descriptor 0, also normally the terminal) may be redirected from a file by the sequence <file, or by the sequence <>file, which opens the file for writing as well as reading. Note that if file is in fact a parsed braced block, the redirection will be treated as pipe to the given command - it is identical to the <{} operator mentioned above.

Redirections may be applied to a file-descriptor other than standard input or output by qualifying the redirection operator with a number in square brackets. For example, the diagnostic output (file descriptor 2) may be redirected by writing limbo junk.b >[2] junk.

A file descriptor may be redirected to an already open descriptor by writing >[fd0=fd1] or <[fd0=fd1]. Fd1 is a previously opened file descriptor and fd0 becomes a new copy (in the sense of sys-dup(2)) of it.

Redirections are executed from left to right. Therefore, limbo junk.b >/dev/null >[2=1] and limbo junk.b >[2=1] >/dev/null have different effects: the first puts standard output in /dev/null and then puts diagnostic output in the same place, where the second directs diagnostic output to the terminal and sends standard output to /dev/null.

Compound Commands
A pair of commands separated by a pipe operator (|) is a command. The standard output of the left command is sent through a pipe to the standard input of the right command. The pipe operator may be decorated to use different file descriptors. |[fd] connects the output end of the pipe to file descriptor fd rather than 1. |[fd0=fd1] connects output to fd1 of the left command and input to fd0 of the right command.

A sequence of commands separated by &, ;, or newline may be grouped by surrounding them with braces ({}), elsewhere referred to as a braced block. A braced block may be used anywhere that a simple word is expected. If a simple command is found with a braced block as its first word, the variable $* is set to any following arguments, $0 is set to the block itself, and the commands are executed in sequence. If a braced block is passed as an argument, no execution takes place: the block is converted to a functionally equivalent string, suitable for later re-interpretation by the shell. The null command ({}) has no effect and always gives a nil status. For instance the following commands all produce the same result:

	echo hello world
	{echo hello world}
	'{echo hello world}'
	{echo $*} hello world
	sh -c {echo hello world}
	{$*} {echo hello world}
	{$*} {{$*} {echo hello world}}
	"{echo {echo hello world}}
	'{echo hello' ^ ' world}'
	x := {echo hello world}; $x
It is important to note that the value of $* is lost every time a braced block is entered, so for instance, the following command prints an empty string:
	{{echo $*}} hello world

Built-in Commands
The term ``built-in command'', or just ``builtin'', is used somewhat loosely in this document to refer to any command that is executed directly by the shell; most built-in commands are defined by externally loaded modules; there are a few that are not, known as ``internal'' builtins, listed below.

Given sh's ability to pass compound commands (braced blocks) as arguments to other commands, most control-flow functionality that is traditionally hard-wired into a shell is in sh implemented by loadable modules. See sh-std(1), sh-expr(1), and sh-tk(1) for more details.

There are two classes of built-in commands; the first class, known simply as ``builtins'', are used in the same way as normal commands, the only difference being that builtins can raise exceptions, while external commands cannot, as they are run in a separate process. The second class, known as ``builtin substitutions'' can only be used as the first word of the command in the ${} operator. The two classes exist in different name-spaces: a builtin may do something quite different from a builtin substitution of the same name.

In general, normal builtins perform some action or test some condition; the return status of a normal builtin usually indicates error status or conditional success. The rôle of a substitution builtin is to yield a value, (possibly a list) which is substituted directly into place as part of the argument list of a command.

@ command ...
Execute command in a subshell, allowing (for instance) the name-space to be forked independently of main shell.
run file ...
Execute commands from file. $* is set for the duration to the remainder of the argument list following file.
builtin command ...
Execute command as usual except that any command defined by an external module is ignored in favour of the original meaning. This command cannot be redefined by an external module.
Terminate the current process.
load path...
Load tries to load each of its arguments as a builtin module into sh. If a module load succeeds, each builtin command defined by that module is added to the list of builtin commands. If there was a previous definition of the command, it is replaced, with the exception of internal sh builtins, which are covered up and reappear when the module is unloaded. If a module with the same path has already been loaded, sh does not try to load it again. Unless the path begins with / or ./, the shell looks in the standard builtins directory /dis/sh for the module. If a load fails, a bad module exception is raised. The environment variable $autoload can be set to a list of Shell modules that each instance of sh should load automatically during its initialisation. (More precisely, the modules are loaded when a new Sh->Context is created: see sh(2) for details.)
unload path...
Unload undoes previous load commands. To succeed, path must be the same as that given to a previous invocation of load.
Loaded prints all the builtin commands currently defined, along with the name of the module that defined them. Internally defined commands are tagged with module builtin.
whatis name ...
Print the value of each name in a form suitable for input to sh. The forms are:
varname = value...
Varname is a non-nil environment variable.
load modulename
Name has been defined as a builtin by the externally loaded module.
load module; ${name}
Name has been defined as a builtin substitution by the externally loaded module.
builtin name
Name is defined as a builtin internally by sh.
Name is defined as a builtin substitution internally by the shell.
The completed pathname of an external file.
${builtin command }
Does for substitution builtin commands what builtin does for normal commands.
The loaded builtin substitution yields a list of the names of all the modules currently loaded, as passed to load.
${quote list}
Quote yields a single element list which if reparsed by the shell will recreate list.
${bquote list}
Same as quote except that items in list that are known to be well-formed command blocks are not quoted.
${unquote arg}
Unquote reverses the operation of quote, yielding the original list of values. For example, ${unquote ${quote list}} yields list. A list quoted with bquote can only be unquoted by parsing.

The environment is a list of strings made available to externally executing commands by the env module (see env(2)). If the env module does not exist or cannot be loaded, no error will be reported, but no variables can be exported to external commands. Sh creates an environment entry for each variable whose value is non-empty. This is formatted as if it had been run through ${quote}. Note that in order for a variable to be exported, its name must conform to the restrictions imposed by env(3); names that do not will not be exported.

When sh starts executing it reads variable definitions from its environment.

Internally, the shell holds a context, which holds a stack of environment variables, the current execution flags and the list of built-in modules. A copy is made whereever parallel access to the context might occur. This happens for processes executing in a pipeline, processes run asynchronously with &, and in any builtin command that runs a shell command asynchronously.

When sh encounters an error processing its input, an exception is raised, and if the -v flag is set, an error message is printed to standard error. An exception causes processing of the current command to terminate and control to be transferred back up the invocation stack. In an interactive shell, the central command processing loop catches all exceptions and sets $status to the name of the exception. Exceptions are not propagated between processes. Any command that requires I/O redirection is run in a separate process, namely pipes (|), redirections (>, <, >>, and <>), backquote substitution (`, ") and background processes (&). Exceptions can be raised and rescued using the raise and rescue functions in the standard builtins module, std. (See sh-std(1)). Names of exceptions raised by sh include:

parse error
An error has occurred trying to parse a command.
A builtin has been passed an invalid set of arguments;
bad redir
An error was encountered trying to open files prior to running a process.
bad $ arg
An invalid name was given to the $ or ${} operator.
no pipe
Sh failed to make a pipe.
bad wait read
An error occurred while waiting for a process to exit.
builtin not found
A substitution builtin was named but not found.

Special Variables
The following variables are set or used by sh.

Set to sh's argument list during initialization. Whenever a braced block is executed, the current value is saved and $* receives the new argument list. The saved value is restored on completion of the block.
Whenever a process is started asynchronously with &, $apid is set to its process id.
The input field separators used in backquote substitutions. If $ifs is not set in sh's environment, it is initialized to blank, tab and newline.
When sh is run interactively, the first component of $prompt is printed before reading each command. The second component is printed whenever a newline is typed and more lines are required to complete the command. If not set in the environment, it is initialized by prompt=('% ' '').
Set to the wait message of the last-executed program, the return status of the last-executed builtin (unless started with &), or the name of the last-raised exception, whichever is most recent. When sh exits at end-of-file of its input, $status is its exit status.

If sh is started with no arguments it reads commands from standard input. Otherwise its first non-flag argument is the name of a file from which to read commands (but see -c below). Subsequent arguments become the initial value of $*. Sh accepts the following command-line flags.

-c string
Commands are read from string.
If -i is present, or sh is given no arguments and its standard input is a terminal, it runs interactively. Commands are prompted for using $prompt. This option implies -v.
If -l is given or the first character of argument zero is -, sh reads commands from /lib/sh/profile, if it exists, and then ./lib/profile, if it exists, before reading its normal input.
Normally, sh forks its namespace on startup; if -n is given, this behaviour is suppressed.
Within a non-interactive shell, informational messages printed to standard error are usually disabled; giving the -v flag enables them.
Print each simple command to stderr before executing it.




sh(1), sh-std(1), sh-expr(1), sh-file2chan(1), sh-tk(1), sh-arg(1), sh-regex(1), sh-string(1), sh-csv(1), sh(2), env(2)


Due to lack of system support, appending to a file with >> will not work correctly when there are multiple concurrent writers (but see the examples section of sh-file2chan(1) for one solution to this).

While it is possible to use the shell as a general purpose programming language, it is a very slow one! Intensive tasks are best done in Limbo, which is a much safer language to boot.

SH(1 ) Rev:  Tue Mar 31 02:42:38 GMT 2015