Linux bash exit status and how to set exit status in bash

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Can you explain bash exit status code? How do I set bash exit status in my Linux shell scripts?

Each Linux or Unix command returns a status when it terminates normally or abnormally. You can use value of exit status in the shell script to display an error message or run commands. For example, if tar command is unsuccessful, it returns a code which tells the shell script to send an e-mail to sysadmins.

More on Linux bash shell exit status codes

  1. Every Linux or Unix command executed by the shell script or user, has an exit status.
  2. The exit status is an integer number.
  3. For the bash shell’s purposes, a command which exits with a zero (0) exit status has succeeded.
  4. A non-zero (1-255) exit status indicates failure.
  5. If a command is not found, the child process created to execute it returns a status of 127. If a command is found but is not executable, the return status is 126.
  6. All of the Bash builtins return exit status of zero if they succeed and a non-zero status on failure.

How do I display the exit status of shell command?

You can use special shell variable called $? to get the exit status of the previously executed command. To print $? variable use the echo command/printf command. The syntax is:
echo $?

echo $?
printf "%d\n" $?
## run non-existence command ##
## display status code ##
echo $?

Display bash exit status in Linux

How to store the exit status of the command in a shell variable

Assign $? to a shell variable. The syntax is:

echo "The date command exit status : ${status}"

Linux exit status and the conditional/list constructs

A simple shell script to locate host name (

# set var 
# get host name 
read -p "Enter a hostname : " hostname
# try to locate hostname/computer name in $FILE
grep -q -w "${hostname}" "${FILE}"
# store exit status of grep
# if found grep will return 0 exit status
# if not found, grep will return a nonzero exit status
if test $status -eq 0
	echo "Host '$hostname' found in $FILE file."
	echo "Host '$hostname' not found in $FILE file."

Linux exit status in shell script with if command

How to use the && and || operators with exit codes

The syntax is:

command && echo "success"
command || echo "failed"
command && echo "success" || echo "failed"

If a dir named “/tmp/foo” not found create it:
[ ! -d "/tmp/foo" ] && mkdir -p "/tmp/foo"
For example, show usage syntax when filename not passed as the command line arg:

## fail safe ##
[[ "$_files" == "" ]] && { echo "Usage: $0 file1.png file2.png"; exit 1; }
## continue below ##

Here is another shell script that shows usage:

set -e
[ ! -f "$I" ] && { echo "$I file not found."; exit 10; }
[ "$t" == "" ] && { echo "Usage: $0 number-of-urls-to-purge-from-$I"; exit 11; }
cat "$I" | sort | uniq | while read -r u
	echo "~^$uu 1;" >>"${O}"
echo "* Config file created at ${O} ..."
echo "* Installing ${O} file on utls-wp-mg-www ..."
~/bin/ "${O}"
echo "* Send config to rest of cluster nodes ... "
~/bin/ --sync --cluster --reload cbz-www
echo "* Building list purge urls for Cloudflare CDN ..."
sleep 1
while IFS= read -r u
        url="$url $u"
done <<<"$(tail -${t} ${I})"
[ "$url" != "" ] && ~/bin/ "$url"
[ -f "$O" ] && rm -f "$O"

List of common exit codes for GNU/Linux

Exit CodeDescription
0 Success
1 Operation not permitted
2 No such file or directory
3 No such process
4 Interrupted system call
5 Input/output error
6 No such device or address
7 Argument list too long
8 Exec format error
9 Bad file descriptor
10 No child processes
11 Resource temporarily unavailable
12 Cannot allocate memory
13 Permission denied
14 Bad address
15 Block device required
16 Device or resource busy
17 File exists
18 Invalid cross-device link
19 No such device
20 Not a directory
21 Is a directory
22 Invalid argument
23 Too many open files in system
24 Too many open files
25 Inappropriate ioctl for device
26 Text file busy
27 File too large
28 No space left on device
29 Illegal seek
30 Read-only file system
31 Too many links
32 Broken pipe
33 Numerical argument out of domain
34 Numerical result out of range
35 Resource deadlock avoided
36 File name too long
37 No locks available
38 Function not implemented
39 Directory not empty
40 Too many levels of symbolic links
42 No message of desired type
43 Identifier removed
44 Channel number out of range
45 Level 2 not synchronized
46 Level 3 halted
47 Level 3 reset
48 Link number out of range
49 Protocol driver not attached
50 No CSI structure available
51 Level 2 halted
52 Invalid exchange
53 Invalid request descriptor
54 Exchange full
55 No anode
56 Invalid request code
57 Invalid slot
59 Bad font file format
60 Device not a stream
61 No data available
62 Timer expired
63 Out of streams resources
64 Machine is not on the network
65 Package not installed
66 Object is remote
67 Link has been severed
68 Advertise error
69 Srmount error
70 Communication error on send
71 Protocol error
72 Multihop attempted
73 RFS specific error
74 Bad message
75 Value too large for defined data type
76 Name not unique on network
77 File descriptor in bad state
78 Remote address changed
79 Can not access a needed shared library
80 Accessing a corrupted shared library
81 .lib section in a.out corrupted
82 Attempting to link in too many shared libraries
83 Cannot exec a shared library directly
84 Invalid or incomplete multibyte or wide character
85 Interrupted system call should be restarted
86 Streams pipe error
87 Too many users
88 Socket operation on non-socket
89 Destination address required
90 Message too long
91 Protocol wrong type for socket
92 Protocol not available
93 Protocol not supported
94 Socket type not supported
95 Operation not supported
96 Protocol family not supported
97 Address family not supported by protocol
98 Address already in use
99 Cannot assign requested address
100 Network is down
101 Network is unreachable
102 Network dropped connection on reset
103 Software caused connection abort
104 Connection reset by peer
105 No buffer space available
106 Transport endpoint is already connected
107 Transport endpoint is not connected
108 Cannot send after transport endpoint shutdown
109 Too many references
110 Connection timed out
111 Connection refused
112 Host is down
113 No route to host
114 Operation already in progress
115 Operation now in progress
116 Stale file handle
117 Structure needs cleaning
118 Not a XENIX named type file
119 No XENIX semaphores available
120 Is a named type file
121 Remote I/O error
122 Disk quota exceeded
123 No medium found
125 Operation canceled
126 Required key not available
127 Key has expired
128 Key has been revoked
129 Key was rejected by service
130 Owner died
131 State not recoverable
132 Operation not possible due to RF-kill
133 Memory page has hardware error

The perror command explain error codes which is part of MySQL/MariaDB package:
perror 0
perror 1


This page explained bash exit status and related commands. For more info see bash shell man page here.

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

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