Linux Redirect Error Output To File

Posted on in Categories , , last updated June 23, 2014

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:

#!/bin/bash
# My script to do blah ...
foo(){
 :
} 2>&1 | tee foo.log

OR

#!/bin/bash
# My script to do blah ...
{
   command1
   command2
} 2>&1 | tee script.log

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. He has worked with global clients and in various industries, including IT, education, defense and space research, and the nonprofit sector. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

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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