Error handling in Bash


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

He suggests using the following function for error handling in 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 <>

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?

2/4/2017 4:12:11 AM

Use a trap!

tempfiles=( )
cleanup() {
  rm -f "${tempfiles[@]}"
trap cleanup 0

error() {
  local parent_lineno="$1"
  local message="$2"
  local code="${3:-1}"
  if [[ -n "$message" ]] ; then
    echo "Error on or near line ${parent_lineno}: ${message}; exiting with status ${code}"
    echo "Error on or near line ${parent_lineno}; exiting with status ${code}"
  exit "${code}"
trap 'error ${LINENO}' ERR

...then, whenever you create a temporary file:

temp_foo="$(mktemp -t foobar.XXXXXX)"
tempfiles+=( "$temp_foo" )

and $temp_foo will be deleted on exit, and the current line number will be printed. (set -e will likewise give you exit-on-error behavior, though it comes with serious caveats and weakens code's predictability and portability).

You can either let the trap call error for you (in which case it uses the default exit code of 1 and no message) or call it yourself and provide explicit values; for instance:

error ${LINENO} "the foobar failed" 2

will exit with status 2, and give an explicit message.

6/28/2017 2:15:53 PM

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