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Error handling in Bash


Question

What is your favorite method to handle errors in Bash? The best example of handling errors I have found on the web was written by William Shotts, Jr at http://www.linuxcommand.org.

He suggests using the following function for error handling in Bash:

#!/bin/bash

# A slicker error handling routine

# I put a variable in my scripts named PROGNAME which
# holds the name of the program being run.  You can get this
# value from the first item on the command line ($0).

# Reference: This was copied from <http://www.linuxcommand.org/wss0150.php>

PROGNAME=$(basename $0)

function error_exit
{

#   ----------------------------------------------------------------
#   Function for exit due to fatal program error
#       Accepts 1 argument:
#           string containing descriptive error message
#   ---------------------------------------------------------------- 

    echo "${PROGNAME}: ${1:-"Unknown Error"}" 1>&2
    exit 1
}

# Example call of the error_exit function.  Note the inclusion
# of the LINENO environment variable.  It contains the current
# line number.

echo "Example of error with line number and message"
error_exit "$LINENO: An error has occurred."

Do you have a better error handling routine that you use in Bash scripts?

2017/02/04
1
245
2/4/2017 4:12:11 AM


That's a fine solution. I just wanted to add

set -e

as a rudimentary error mechanism. It will immediately stop your script if a simple command fails. I think this should have been the default behavior: since such errors almost always signify something unexpected, it is not really 'sane' to keep executing the following commands.

2008/09/16

Reading all the answers on this page inspired me a lot.

So, here's my hint:

file content: lib.trap.sh

lib_name='trap'
lib_version=20121026

stderr_log="/dev/shm/stderr.log"

#
# TO BE SOURCED ONLY ONCE:
#
###~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~##

if test "${g_libs[$lib_name]+_}"; then
    return 0
else
    if test ${#g_libs[@]} == 0; then
        declare -A g_libs
    fi
    g_libs[$lib_name]=$lib_version
fi


#
# MAIN CODE:
#
###~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~##

set -o pipefail  # trace ERR through pipes
set -o errtrace  # trace ERR through 'time command' and other functions
set -o nounset   ## set -u : exit the script if you try to use an uninitialised variable
set -o errexit   ## set -e : exit the script if any statement returns a non-true return value

exec 2>"$stderr_log"


###~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~##
#
# FUNCTION: EXIT_HANDLER
#
###~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~##

function exit_handler ()
{
    local error_code="$?"

    test $error_code == 0 && return;

    #
    # LOCAL VARIABLES:
    # ------------------------------------------------------------------
    #    
    local i=0
    local regex=''
    local mem=''

    local error_file=''
    local error_lineno=''
    local error_message='unknown'

    local lineno=''


    #
    # PRINT THE HEADER:
    # ------------------------------------------------------------------
    #
    # Color the output if it's an interactive terminal
    test -t 1 && tput bold; tput setf 4                                 ## red bold
    echo -e "\n(!) EXIT HANDLER:\n"


    #
    # GETTING LAST ERROR OCCURRED:
    # ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ #

    #
    # Read last file from the error log
    # ------------------------------------------------------------------
    #
    if test -f "$stderr_log"
        then
            stderr=$( tail -n 1 "$stderr_log" )
            rm "$stderr_log"
    fi

    #
    # Managing the line to extract information:
    # ------------------------------------------------------------------
    #

    if test -n "$stderr"
        then        
            # Exploding stderr on :
            mem="$IFS"
            local shrunk_stderr=$( echo "$stderr" | sed 's/\: /\:/g' )
            IFS=':'
            local stderr_parts=( $shrunk_stderr )
            IFS="$mem"

            # Storing information on the error
            error_file="${stderr_parts[0]}"
            error_lineno="${stderr_parts[1]}"
            error_message=""

            for (( i = 3; i <= ${#stderr_parts[@]}; i++ ))
                do
                    error_message="$error_message "${stderr_parts[$i-1]}": "
            done

            # Removing last ':' (colon character)
            error_message="${error_message%:*}"

            # Trim
            error_message="$( echo "$error_message" | sed -e 's/^[ \t]*//' | sed -e 's/[ \t]*$//' )"
    fi

    #
    # GETTING BACKTRACE:
    # ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ #
    _backtrace=$( backtrace 2 )


    #
    # MANAGING THE OUTPUT:
    # ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ #

    local lineno=""
    regex='^([a-z]{1,}) ([0-9]{1,})$'

    if [[ $error_lineno =~ $regex ]]

        # The error line was found on the log
        # (e.g. type 'ff' without quotes wherever)
        # --------------------------------------------------------------
        then
            local row="${BASH_REMATCH[1]}"
            lineno="${BASH_REMATCH[2]}"

            echo -e "FILE:\t\t${error_file}"
            echo -e "${row^^}:\t\t${lineno}\n"

            echo -e "ERROR CODE:\t${error_code}"             
            test -t 1 && tput setf 6                                    ## white yellow
            echo -e "ERROR MESSAGE:\n$error_message"


        else
            regex="^${error_file}\$|^${error_file}\s+|\s+${error_file}\s+|\s+${error_file}\$"
            if [[ "$_backtrace" =~ $regex ]]

                # The file was found on the log but not the error line
                # (could not reproduce this case so far)
                # ------------------------------------------------------
                then
                    echo -e "FILE:\t\t$error_file"
                    echo -e "ROW:\t\tunknown\n"

                    echo -e "ERROR CODE:\t${error_code}"
                    test -t 1 && tput setf 6                            ## white yellow
                    echo -e "ERROR MESSAGE:\n${stderr}"

                # Neither the error line nor the error file was found on the log
                # (e.g. type 'cp ffd fdf' without quotes wherever)
                # ------------------------------------------------------
                else
                    #
                    # The error file is the first on backtrace list:

                    # Exploding backtrace on newlines
                    mem=$IFS
                    IFS='
                    '
                    #
                    # Substring: I keep only the carriage return
                    # (others needed only for tabbing purpose)
                    IFS=${IFS:0:1}
                    local lines=( $_backtrace )

                    IFS=$mem

                    error_file=""

                    if test -n "${lines[1]}"
                        then
                            array=( ${lines[1]} )

                            for (( i=2; i<${#array[@]}; i++ ))
                                do
                                    error_file="$error_file ${array[$i]}"
                            done

                            # Trim
                            error_file="$( echo "$error_file" | sed -e 's/^[ \t]*//' | sed -e 's/[ \t]*$//' )"
                    fi

                    echo -e "FILE:\t\t$error_file"
                    echo -e "ROW:\t\tunknown\n"

                    echo -e "ERROR CODE:\t${error_code}"
                    test -t 1 && tput setf 6                            ## white yellow
                    if test -n "${stderr}"
                        then
                            echo -e "ERROR MESSAGE:\n${stderr}"
                        else
                            echo -e "ERROR MESSAGE:\n${error_message}"
                    fi
            fi
    fi

    #
    # PRINTING THE BACKTRACE:
    # ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ #

    test -t 1 && tput setf 7                                            ## white bold
    echo -e "\n$_backtrace\n"

    #
    # EXITING:
    # ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ #

    test -t 1 && tput setf 4                                            ## red bold
    echo "Exiting!"

    test -t 1 && tput sgr0 # Reset terminal

    exit "$error_code"
}
trap exit_handler EXIT                                                  # ! ! ! TRAP EXIT ! ! !
trap exit ERR                                                           # ! ! ! TRAP ERR ! ! !


###~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~##
#
# FUNCTION: BACKTRACE
#
###~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~##

function backtrace
{
    local _start_from_=0

    local params=( "[email protected]" )
    if (( "${#params[@]}" >= "1" ))
        then
            _start_from_="$1"
    fi

    local i=0
    local first=false
    while caller $i > /dev/null
    do
        if test -n "$_start_from_" && (( "$i" + 1   >= "$_start_from_" ))
            then
                if test "$first" == false
                    then
                        echo "BACKTRACE IS:"
                        first=true
                fi
                caller $i
        fi
        let "i=i+1"
    done
}

return 0



Example of usage:
file content: trap-test.sh

#!/bin/bash

source 'lib.trap.sh'

echo "doing something wrong now .."
echo "$foo"

exit 0


Running:

bash trap-test.sh

Output:

doing something wrong now ..

(!) EXIT HANDLER:

FILE:       trap-test.sh
LINE:       6

ERROR CODE: 1
ERROR MESSAGE:
foo:   unassigned variable

BACKTRACE IS:
1 main trap-test.sh

Exiting!


As you can see from the screenshot below, the output is colored and the error message comes in the used language.

enter image description here

2013/12/16

An equivalent alternative to "set -e" is

set -o errexit

It makes the meaning of the flag somewhat clearer than just "-e".

Random addition: to temporarily disable the flag, and return to the default (of continuing execution regardless of exit codes), just use

set +e
echo "commands run here returning non-zero exit codes will not cause the entire script to fail"
echo "false returns 1 as an exit code"
false
set -e

This precludes proper error handling mentioned in other responses, but is quick & effective (just like bash).

2013/07/10

Inspired by the ideas presented here, I have developed a readable and convenient way to handle errors in bash scripts in my bash boilerplate project.

By simply sourcing the library, you get the following out of the box (i.e. it will halt execution on any error, as if using set -e thanks to a trap on ERR and some bash-fu):

bash-oo-framework error handling

There are some extra features that help handle errors, such as try and catch, or the throw keyword, that allows you to break execution at a point to see the backtrace. Plus, if the terminal supports it, it spits out powerline emojis, colors parts of the output for great readability, and underlines the method that caused the exception in the context of the line of code.

The downside is - it's not portable - the code works in bash, probably >= 4 only (but I'd imagine it could be ported with some effort to bash 3).

The code is separated into multiple files for better handling, but I was inspired by the backtrace idea from the answer above by Luca Borrione.

To read more or take a look at the source, see GitHub:

https://github.com/niieani/bash-oo-framework#error-handling-with-exceptions-and-throw

2017/05/23

I prefer something really easy to call. So I use something that looks a little complicated, but is easy to use. I usually just copy-and-paste the code below into my scripts. An explanation follows the code.

#This function is used to cleanly exit any script. It does this displaying a
# given error message, and exiting with an error code.
function error_exit {
    echo
    echo "[email protected]"
    exit 1
}
#Trap the killer signals so that we can exit with a good message.
trap "error_exit 'Received signal SIGHUP'" SIGHUP
trap "error_exit 'Received signal SIGINT'" SIGINT
trap "error_exit 'Received signal SIGTERM'" SIGTERM

#Alias the function so that it will print a message with the following format:
#prog-name(@line#): message
#We have to explicitly allow aliases, we do this because they make calling the
#function much easier (see example).
shopt -s expand_aliases
alias die='error_exit "Error ${0}(@`echo $(( $LINENO - 1 ))`):"'

I usually put a call to the cleanup function in side the error_exit function, but this varies from script to script so I left it out. The traps catch the common terminating signals and make sure everything gets cleaned up. The alias is what does the real magic. I like to check everything for failure. So in general I call programs in an "if !" type statement. By subtracting 1 from the line number the alias will tell me where the failure occurred. It is also dead simple to call, and pretty much idiot proof. Below is an example (just replace /bin/false with whatever you are going to call).

#This is an example useage, it will print out
#Error prog-name (@1): Who knew false is false.
if ! /bin/false ; then
    die "Who knew false is false."
fi
2009/11/20

Source: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/64786
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