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Previous: 45.24 A Shell Can Read a Script from its Standard Input, But...Chapter 45
Shell Programming for the Initiated
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45.25 Shell Scripts On-the-Fly from Standard Input

Warning! The shell can read commands from its standard input or from a file. To run a series of commands that can change, you may want to use one program to create the command lines automatically - and pipe that program's output to a shell, which will run those "automatic" commands.

Here's an example. [3] You want to copy files from a subdirectory and all its subdirectories into a single directory. The filenames in the destination directory can't conflict; no two files can have the same name. An easy way to name the copies is to replace each slash (/) in the file's relative pathname with a minus sign (-). [4] For instance, the file named lib/glob/aprog.c would be copied to a file named lib-glob-aprog.c. You can use sed (34.1) to convert the filenames and output cp commands like these:

[3] This isn't recommended for systems with a 14-character filename limit.

[4] A replacement like CTRL-a would make unique filenames (but ones that are harder to type).

cp from/lib/glob/aprog.c to/lib-glob-aprog.c
cp from/lib/glob/aprog.h to/lib-glob-aprog.h
    ...

However, an even better solution can be developed using nawk (33.12). The following example uses find (17.1) to make a list of pathnames, one per line, in and below the copyfrom directory. Next it runs nawk to create the destination file pathnames (like to/lib-glob-aprog.c) and write the completed command lines to the standard output. The shell reads the command lines from its standard input, through the pipe.

This example is in a script file because it's a little long to type at a prompt. But you can type commands like these at a prompt, too, if you want to:

#!/bin/sh
find copyfrom -type f -print |
nawk '{ out = $0
gsub("/", "-", out)
sub("^copyfrom-", "copyto/", out)
print "cp", $0, out }' |
sh

If you change the last line to sh -v, the shell's verbose option (46.1) will show each command line before executing it. If the last line has sh -e, the shell will quit immediately after any command returns a non-zero exit status (44.7)- that might happen, for instance, if the disk fills up and cp can't make the copy.

- JP


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