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Exercise 2: Evaluating Logic

Using this example script outline, start a new script and name it This time, the script will be used to test various scripting conventions.

Expanding Commands

The first thing to try is variable substitution and expression evaluation. One aspect of scripting is the concept of embedding variables and other expressions directly into text strings. Embedded expressions are evaluated when they are prefixed with the $ sign, provided the expressions are not embedded in text, or are unquoted, or are partially quoted.

Single vs Double Quotes

Double-quotes are referred to as partial quoting, while single-quotes are full quoting. Full quoting evaluates to the literal text within the quotes, while partial quoting performs variable and command expansion during evaluation. Test out quoting as follows:


Paste the sidebar statements into the MAIN section of the new script, then run the script. Did any statement(s) produce expected results? Comment out statements which did not work as intended.

Command evaluation $(...)

Commands are evaluated when enclosed in parentheses that are prepended with the $. The difference between command evaluation and quoting is, quoting just displays text, possibly with expanded variables, while evaluation actually runs commands.


Add the sidebar statements into the script, then run the script. Which syntax produces the output of the git command?

Note that $COMMAND is a variable, not a command. The echo commmand must be used to feed that result as a command to the evaluation.

Grouped Commands $(...)

Parentheses prepended with $ will also group a list of commands. For bash, the commands will execute in a subshell and return the result, and local variables may not be accessible to a subshell. Other shells such as dash, the default shell for Debian and Ubuntu, do not use a subshell and therefore can access local variables.


Add the sidebar commands into your script, then view the results.

This example tries three versions of command execution. Notice that a command, in this case echo, must be inside the parentheses. Then the -e option is not needed inside the parentheses. Instead, the inside echo commands serve to pass a string to the execution, and the outside command then echoes the result including the embedded color codes. Question: were local variables assigned in the subshell?

Anonymous functions ${ ... }

Braces group a list of commands. Prepending the braces with $ will execute the commands in an anonymous local function and return the result. Local variables are accessible to the local anonymous function.


Add this next set of sidebar commands into your script, then examine the results.

Hmm. Maybe we are not actually using bash. If $( ... ) is treated as an anonymous function, the ${ ...} syntax may not be supported for grouped commands. However, this syntax will evaluate variables.

Integer calculation $((...))

Double-parentheses enclose a math expression. Within the expression, variables do not require the $ prefix for evaluation.

The let ... command is a synonym for double-parentheses, but it is not recommended because let lacks closure and flexibility.


Add these sidebar commands to your script, then view the results. Just for fun, try replacing the $(( ... )) expression with let ...?

Expressions Test Results

Probably this has been about all the programming fun one can stand. Fortunately we are finished with syntax for evaluating expressions. Sample program results for this section and the following topic on logic can be viewed on a separate page: Sample Expressions Script.

Programming with Logic

This lesson focuses on assembling a program with compound logic expressions. First start a new program, call it Remember, copy in the example shell outline or download it from _downloads/

Iterative For

Use the iterative for command to step through a list or an array of values. For example, the parameters passed to a script could be processed by referring to array $@.


Add these sidebar commands to the main section of script, then run the script to view the results.

Try this command without quoting the word list. Could this syntax be confusing?

Integer For

Use the integer for with three-expression operator for iterating a number of times, or iterating on an indexed list of options.


Add these sidebar commands to your script, then view the results.

Evaluation stops at the first error: -le is an integer comparison test, not an arithmetic operator. The correct term is <= (See Arithmetic operators). Correct this to find the next error, where $ is prepended to the third term, K--. Since this is an (implicit) assignment statement, the $ is not permitted. (We know that $K works in the second term, otherwise that would have been the second error.)

Case Branching

Use the case statement to branch into code blocks from a set of literal choices. Note that multiple patterns may be used in each branch, where patterns are separated by the | (pipe) symbol, here used to represent or.

Patterns are checked in the sequence, and case executes the code block for the first match. The operator ending a code block determines what happens after a block is executed:

Oper Termination result
;; The case statement exits at esac.
;& The next pattern’s code block executes.
;;& Pattern matching resumes at the next block.


Add the case statements to your script from the sidebar. Test the script using each of the suggested values for OPT.

if branching

The if statement is the Swiss Army Knife of logic testing. Comparisons may be string, numeric, or any combination thereof due to the option of using multiple elif sections.


Update your script to include the sidebar code, then view the results. To display results for the elif branch, run your script as root:

sudo bash ./

The sample code here tests whether or not the routine is being run with root permissions. Then it tests a system variable to determine which generation of OS hardware support is installed: 32 bit, or 64 bit. The resulting string may be used to download and install the Chrome web browser from a script.


In the pattern-matching test, the pattern had to be evaluated from variable $PTN, instead of being expressed as a string inside the test?

While Conditional Looping

Use while or until to loop under control of some logical condition. The general distinction between for and while is this: for is for enumerated interation, while while performs conditional looping.


Add the sidebar commands to your script, then test the program with both the while and the until tests. For this simple example, the two tests are equivalent in simplicity.

Select List

Use the Select List operator to display a selection menu at the terminal. This may not be your mama’s GUI, but it offers and effective mechanism for selecting options in a terminal session.


Add the select loop code from the sidebar to your script, then view the results.


Use the universal break key ^D (Ctrl-D) to exit the select menu, or use ^C (Ctrl-C) to exit the script.

Logic Test Results

Again, sample program results on logic tests can be viewed on a separate page: Sample Logic Control Script.