Home » How to exit a shell script if one part of it fails?

How to exit a shell script if one part of it fails?


One approach would be to add set -e to the beginning of your script. That means (from help set):

  -e  Exit immediately if a command exits with a non-zero status.

So if any of your commands fail, the script will exit.

Alternatively, you can add explicit exit statements at the possible failure points:

command || exit 1

You can exit a script at any place using the keyword exit. You can also specify an exit code in order to indicate to other programs that or how your script failed, e.g. exit 1 or exit 2 etc. (By convention, exit code 0 is for success and anything greater than 0 signifies failure; however, also by convention, exit codes above 127 are reserved for abnormal termination (e.g. by a signal)).

The generic construction to exit on failure is

if [ failure condition ]; then
    exit n

with suitable failure condition and n. But in specific scenarios you may proceed differently. Now for your case I interpret your question that if any of the five invocations of gksu fail, then you mean to exit. One way is to use a function like this

function try_command {
    for i in 1 2 3 4 5 ; do
        if gksu command ; then
            return 0
    exit 1

and then, invoke the loop by try_command.

There are (more) advanced or sophisticated ways of how to address your question. However, the solution above is more accessible to beginners than, say, Stephane’s solution.

until gksu command; do
  attempt=$((attempt + 1))
  if [ "$attempt" -gt 5 ]; then
    exit 1

exit exits the script unless it’s called in a subshell. If that part of the script is in a subshell, for instance because it’s within (...) or $(...) or part of a pipe-line, then it will only exit that subshell.

In that case, if you want the script to exit in addition to the subshell, then you’ll need to call exit upon that subshell exiting.

For instance, here with 2 nested levels of subshells:

    echo blah
    [ "$life" = easy ] || exit 1 # exit subshell
    echo blih not run
  ) || exit # if the subshell exits with a non-zero exit status,
            # exit as well with the same exit status

  echo not run either
) || exit # if the subshell exits with a non-zero exit status,
          # exit as well with the same exit status

It can become trickier if the subshell is part of a pipeline. bash has a special $PIPESTATUS array, similar to zsh‘s $pipestatus one that can help you here:

   echo foo
   exit 1
   echo bar
} | wc -c
if [ "$subshell_ret" -ne 0 ]; then
  exit "$subshell_ret"

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