Quick-and-dirty way to ensure only one instance of a shell script is running at a time


What's a quick-and-dirty way to make sure that only one instance of a shell script is running at a given time?

2/22/2019 4:35:52 AM

Accepted Answer

Here's an implementation that uses a lockfile and echoes a PID into it. This serves as a protection if the process is killed before removing the pidfile:

if [ -e ${LOCKFILE} ] && kill -0 `cat ${LOCKFILE}`; then
    echo "already running"

# make sure the lockfile is removed when we exit and then claim it
trap "rm -f ${LOCKFILE}; exit" INT TERM EXIT
echo $$ > ${LOCKFILE}

# do stuff
sleep 1000

rm -f ${LOCKFILE}

The trick here is the kill -0 which doesn't deliver any signal but just checks if a process with the given PID exists. Also the call to trap will ensure that the lockfile is removed even when your process is killed (except kill -9).

10/31/2013 11:58:38 AM

Use flock(1) to make an exclusive scoped lock a on file descriptor. This way you can even synchronize different parts of the script.


  # Wait for lock on /var/lock/.myscript.exclusivelock (fd 200) for 10 seconds
  flock -x -w 10 200 || exit 1

  # Do stuff

) 200>/var/lock/.myscript.exclusivelock

This ensures that code between ( and ) is run only by one process at a time and that the process doesn’t wait too long for a lock.

Caveat: this particular command is a part of util-linux. If you run an operating system other than Linux, it may or may not be available.

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