Get program execution time in the shell


I want to execute something in a linux shell under a few different conditions, and be able to output the execution time of each execution.

I know I could write a perl or python script that would do this, but is there a way I can do it in the shell? (which happens to be bash)

12/22/2008 2:27:41 AM

Accepted Answer

Use the built-in time keyword:

$ help time

time: time [-p] PIPELINE
    Execute PIPELINE and print a summary of the real time, user CPU time,
    and system CPU time spent executing PIPELINE when it terminates.
    The return status is the return status of PIPELINE.  The `-p' option
    prints the timing summary in a slightly different format.  This uses
    the value of the TIMEFORMAT variable as the output format.


$ time sleep 2
real    0m2.009s
user    0m0.000s
sys     0m0.004s
10/30/2016 3:52:23 AM

You can get much more detailed information than the bash built-in time (which Robert Gamble mentions) using time(1). Normally this is /usr/bin/time.

Editor's note: To ensure that you're invoking the external utility time rather than your shell's time keyword, invoke it as /usr/bin/time.
time is a POSIX-mandated utility, but the only option it is required to support is -p.
Specific platforms implement specific, nonstandard extensions: -v works with GNU's time utility, as demonstrated below (the question is tagged ); the BSD/macOS implementation uses -l to produce similar output - see man 1 time.

Example of verbose output:

$ /usr/bin/time -v sleep 1
       Command being timed: "sleep 1"
       User time (seconds): 0.00
       System time (seconds): 0.00
       Percent of CPU this job got: 1%
       Elapsed (wall clock) time (h:mm:ss or m:ss): 0:01.05
       Average shared text size (kbytes): 0
       Average unshared data size (kbytes): 0
       Average stack size (kbytes): 0
       Average total size (kbytes): 0
       Maximum resident set size (kbytes): 0
       Average resident set size (kbytes): 0
       Major (requiring I/O) page faults: 0
       Minor (reclaiming a frame) page faults: 210
       Voluntary context switches: 2
       Involuntary context switches: 1
       Swaps: 0
       File system inputs: 0
       File system outputs: 0
       Socket messages sent: 0
       Socket messages received: 0
       Signals delivered: 0
       Page size (bytes): 4096
       Exit status: 0

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