Linux Redirect Error Output To File

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I am a new Ubuntu Linux and bash shell user. I also know how to redirect output from display/screen to a file using the following syntax:

cmd > file
ls > file

However, some time errors are displayed on screen. How do I store and redirect output from the computer screen to a file on a Linux or Unix-like systems?

Bash / ksh and other modern shell on Linux has three file descriptors:

  1. stdin (0)
  2. stdout (1)
  3. stderr (2)

Syntax To redirect all output to file

The syntax is as follows to redirect output (stdout) as follows:

command-name >  output.txt
command-name >  stdout.txt

Syntax To redirect all error to file

The syntax is as follows to redirect errors (stderr) as follows:

command-name 2> errors.txt
command-name 2> stderr.txt

Syntax to redirect both output (stdout) and errors (stderr) to different files

The syntax:

command1 > out.txt 2> err.txt
command2 -f -z -y > out.txt 2> err.txt

Syntax to redirect both output (stdout) and errors (stderr) to same file

The syntax is:

command1 > everything.txt 2>&1
command1 -arg > everything.txt 2>&1

Syntax to redirect errors (stderr) to null or zero devices

Data written to a null or zero special file is discarded by your system. This is useful to silence out errors (also know as ‘error spam’):

command1 2> /dev/null
command1 2> /dev/zero
command2 -arg 2> /dev/null
command2 -arg 2> /dev/zero

Tip: Use tee command to redirect to both a file and the screen same time

The syntax is:

command1 |& tee log.txt
## or ##
command1 -arg |& tee log.txt
## or ##
command1 2>&1 | tee log.txt

Another usage:

# My script to do blah ...
} 2>&1 | tee foo.log


# My script to do blah ...
} 2>&1 | tee script.log

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.

11 comment

  1. In newer versions of bash and sh, for “Syntax to redirect both output (stdout) and errors (stderr) to same file” you can also use:

    command1 &> everything.txt

  2. Dear NixCraft (or Vivek?)

    You may consider to explain a bit more [tee] command.

    1) It can output to more than one file
    2) It can overwrite files, but also append to files
    3) It can even ignore interrupts.

    — Philippe

  3. is it possible to APPEND stdout and stderr to a file while printing to screen at the same time using TEE command.

  4. Best way to achieve all echo outputs to both screen and file ( as suggested above )
    …. your complete shell script with multiple echo statements
    } > 2>&1 | tee -a script.log

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