Unofficial Bash Strict Mode

Use the Unofficial Bash Strict Mode (Unless You Looove Debugging) by Aaron Maxwell.

Let’s start with the punchline. Your bash scripts will be more robust, reliable and maintainable if you start them like this:

#!/bin/bash
set -euo pipefail
IFS=$'\n\t' 

I call this the unofficial bash strict mode. This causes bash to behave in a way that makes many classes of subtle bugs impossible. You’ll spend much less time debugging, and also avoid having unexpected complications in production.

There is a short-term downside: these settings make certain common bash idioms harder to work with. They all have simple workarounds, detailed below: jump to Issues & Solutions. But first, let’s look at what these obscure lines actually do.

The sort of thing you only hear about in rumors or stumble across in a Twitter feed.

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I first saw this in a tweet by Neil Saunders.

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