Tag Archives: bash

tmux update-environment

tmux is one of the tools I use everyday. But one thing always annoyed me: even though I am using X11 forwarding and ssh-agent forwarding when re-attaching to a session, the DISPLAY and SSH_AUTH_SOCK environment variables are often wrong. Environment variables are initialized only once when the window was created. tmux is able to update some environment variables for new windows and panes based on the update-environment setting, however, existing shell windows cannot be updated.

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bash: reuse last argument from previous command

Reuse the last argument of the previous command with !$:

$ echo abc def
abc def
$ echo !$

A common use case would be mkdir and cd:

$ mkdir foo
$ cd !$

You can also insert the last argument of the previous command and continue typing with <ESC>.:

$ echo abc def
abc def
$ echo <ESC>. ghi
def ghi

Oh, the little things… 🙂

bash: for-loop with glob patterns

It is common to use a for-loop with glob patterns:

for i in *.txt; do
    mv $i $i.old

But if the glob pattern does not match anything it will be preserved unchanged in the command. This results in command execution of mv *.txt *.txt.old which fails because no file named *.txt (literally!) exists.

As this is not the desired behavior, here is a way how to do this as expected without forking using the nullglob bash shell option.

oldnullglob=$(shopt -p nullglob)
shopt -s nullglob

for i in *.txt; do
    mv $i $i.old

eval "$oldnullglob" 2>/dev/null
unset oldnullglob

This will silently prevent the execution of the mv command. If you use failglob instead of nullglob bash will interrupt the evaluation of any command if the glob pattern did not match anything.

Disclaimer: Be careful with this option, as this will not be the expected behavior in all cases. Most (in)famously it breaks bash-completion if you set it in your interactive bash session. I suggest to use it temporary only.

Hiding MOTD on bash startup

Usually bash displays /etc/motd at the time of last login on opening a new shell. I do not find that information very useful, as I am opening new shells a lot, so the time does not really mean anything for me. Also, the MOTD rarely changes.

There is a feature in bash to hide these messages by creating a file ~/.hushlogin. This will make bash jump right to the first prompt without any output before.

But just in case the MOTD changes and includes important messages, I enhanced this setup a little bit. Instead of just touching the .hushlogin file, I am storing the old MOTD in it. At startup the old and current MOTD is compared against each other and will be displayed only if it differs. To avoid accidentally missing the MOTD, bash will also ask for my confirmation that I have read it.

Here is the snippet from my ~/.bashrc:

# Show motd only if necessary
cmp -s $HOME/.hushlogin /etc/motd
if [ $? != 0 ]; then
    echo -e "\n==> !!! IMPORTANT: /etc/motd changed !!! <==\n"
    cat /etc/motd
    echo -e "\n==> !!! IMPORTANT: /etc/motd changed !!! <==\n"
    read -e -n 1 -p "Show again? (Y/n) " ans
    if [ "$ans" == "n" ]; then
        cat /etc/motd > $HOME/.hushlogin

Please note: If you are going to use this, make sure it will not get executed on non-interactive shells. Otherwise it can break tools like scp, sftp or rsync. To ensure this will not be used on non-interactive shells, I am using this conditional at the top of my ~/.bashrc:

if [[ $- != *i* ]] ; then
    # Shell is non-interactive.  Be done now!