Road Bash is a portable bash command shell for Unix, Windows, and Mac OS. It contains scripts for initializing the Bash shell, logging, and error handling. For standalone operation under Windows, Road Bash redistributes MSYS and selections from GnuWin32, Outwit, and UnxUtils.

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Road Bash

Learning Bash


Advanced Bash

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to MinGW, Akamai, PTC, Mathsoft, LTSave, and the Road team at ATG. Page design by Dave Marshall. Logo by T.W. Walsh.

Copyright (c) 2005-2009, Road Intranet

Setup Road Bash

To set up Road Bash

  • On Windows -- Download [Upper-left on this page]. Extract the zip file to C:\, preserving the file paths. Click on the bash icon (a green tree).
  • On Unix or Cygwin -- Download road-bash.tgz [Upper-left on this page]. From your home directory, execute tar -zxf road-bash.tgz or gtar -zxf road-bash.tgz. Copy bash/etc/skel/.bashrc to your home directory. Execute sh --login or bash --login
  • On Macintosh -- Download road-bash.tgz. Extract the contents to the Desktop. Then move the bash directory to Users/your_login, and copy bash/etc/skel/.bashrc to the same directory. Launch Applications/Utilities/Terminal. Alternatively, launch Terminal and follow the Unix instructions.
  • HOST-~> -- The command prompt should be the machine name followed by '-~'
  • finda -- List the aliases and functions defined by Road Bash.
  • (bash/local/bin/ -- Run this command to test your bash installation.
  • The following errors may occur
    • If the command prompt is "sh-3.1$" -- The bash startup script, bash/etc/ did not run. Try sourcing the file directly. Check etc/profile. It is executed before
    • : command not found -- Bash is expecting Unix line endings (\n), but .bashrc and/or etc/road*.sh use Windows line endings (\r\n). Use the Unix distribution, or convert the files using d2u.
    • parse error near ']]' -- You are running zsh instead of bash.
    • bad substitution -- /bin/sh is csh instead of bash. Change the first line of to "#!/bin/bash"
    • reports an error -- Look at the detailed log file. Typically a Unix command requires different arguments. If you find an error in Road Bash, please report it to
    • terminal is not fully functional -- ~/.termcap is not defined for less and more. Copy it from bash/etc/skel/.termcap.
  • On Windows, install additional utilities -- Install Windows utilities into c:\bash\util and Unix utilities into c:\bash\local. See Suggested utilities for Windows
  • Windows command shell -- To invoke bash programs from the Windows command shell, append the following to the PATH variable: ;c:\bash\util;c:\bash\bin;c:\bash\local\bin [Control Panel->System->Advanced->Environment Variables]. Execute bash.bat to switch the Windows command shell to bash.
  • Simplified distribution on Unix, MacOS, or Cygwin -- Copy bash/etc/road-* to /etc If using a standard SSH login, copy road-root.bash_profile to its home directory. Otherwise copy road-home.bashrc to home directories or /etc/skel.
  • bash --init-file /etc/road-home.bashrc -l -c "finda find" -- Setup road-bash at launch.

For documentation, use Siever, et. al., Linux in a Nutshell, O'Reilly, 2005, ISBN 0-596-00930-5.

Road Bash shell

Road Bash sources etc/ and etc/


  • b -- back to previous directory
  • c dir -- CDPATH includes .., ../.., etc.
  • c1,c2,c3,c4,c5,c6 -- go up n directories
  • cc dir -- cd dir; ls
  • cdw 'dir' -- cd to Windows or Unix directory
  • dir -- launch Windows explorer

Search (egrep)

  • finda alias -- find matching aliases and functions
  • findd dir [name] -- find matching subdirectories by egrep and name
  • finde env -- find matching environment variables
  • findf file [name] -- find matching files by egrep and name
  • findh history -- find matching history
  • findmy x -- find matching namedir
  • findp process -- find matching process
  • findt text [name] -- find matching file lines [egrep] that match name, cut at 150
  • findtt text -- find files that match text [egrep] and name
  • findx xfile [name] -- find files that match name, but not xfile [egrep]
  • findxt xfile text [name] -- find matching file lines that match name but not xfile [egrep]
  • findxtt xfile text [name] -- find files that match text [egrep] and name, but not xfile [egrep]
  • ph name -- list matching lines from ~/phone.*


  • mydir x -- define x and $x as current directory.
  • namedir x dir -- define x and $x as dir
  • findmy x -- find namedirs that match x
  • rmmy x -- remove x


  • copy -- cp file
  • del -- rm file
  • dos2u -- strip \r from files
  • e file -- edit file using $EDITOR
  • file_swap x y -- swap file or directory names
  • findf file [name] -- find matching files
  • newbashenv -- Replace .bashenv with paste buffer
  • newsource -- source .bashrc
  • p4edit [selector] -- open modified files for edit (p4)
  • p4update [--update] -- update current directory for p4


  • findd dir [name] -- find matching directories
  • l -- list directory in columns
  • ll -- list directory, most recent last
  • mydir x -- define x as an alias and variable
  • newdir dir -- mkdir dir; cd dir
  • setup_keychain -- set up ssh keychain
  • /usr/local/bin:/bin -- added to PATH if needed for /bin/find.
  • /usr/util -- added to PATH if defined.


  • findh history -- find matching history
  • h -- recent history
  • hh -- full history

Road Bash scripts sources etc/ Source etc/ from your bash scripts

    source /etc/
    source ~/bash/etc/

Log initialization and exit

  • check_err_log $LINENO file -- Create log file, exit on failure
  • check_err_log_rel $LINENO file -- Allow relative path to log file
  • check_isrunning -- Prevent duplicate runs by IS_RUNNING.txt
  • exit_isrunning -- Delete IS_RUNNING.txt
  • ro_here -- Return function and depth for logging. $LINENO does not work well within functions.

Error exit

  • exit_err $LINENO msg -- Write msg, then exit
  • exit_err_file $LINENO msg file -- Write msg and file, then exit
  • exit_if_err $LINENO msg -- If non-zero status, write msg, then exit
  • exit_if_err_file $LINENO msg file -- If non-zero status or file, write msg, then exit
  • exit_if_fail $LINENO command -- Execute command, exit on failure


  • sed_r -- Extended regular expressions for sed
  • xargs_i -- Replace {} with xargs

Functions (

  • daysago n -- Return epoch time n days ago
  • idate [i] [options] -- Convert epoch time to date
  • idate2 date [options] -- Convert date to epoch time
  • ro_hostip --, Return IP of host
  • ro_minute -- 15:02
  • ro_now -- 2005-04-21T15:02:10, primarily for logging
  • ro_today -- 2005-04-21
  • ro_winpath -- Convert Unix to Windows path (but not /local)
  • ro_unixpath -- Convert Windows to Unix path


  • log_err $LINENO msg -- Write msg to log
  • log_err_file $LINENO msg file -- Write msg and file to log
  • log_if_err $LINENO msg -- If non-zero status, write msg to log
  • log_if_err_file $LINENO msg file -- If non-zero status or file, write msg and file to log
  • log_note $LINENO msg -- Write msg to note log
  • log_step $LINENO msg -- Write msg to log

Variables (

  • EDITOR -- Invoked by 'e' (e.g., emacs, TextPad, Notepad)
  • IS_BASH3 -- Set if Bash 3.0 or later
  • IS_CYGWIN IS_MAC IS_MSYS IS_WINDOWS -- Set if Cygwin, Mac OS, MSYS, or Windows
  • P4PORT P4CONFIG P4USER P4EDITOR -- Perforce configuration
  • HOST, USER -- Defaults to HOSTNAME, USERNAME. Usually defined by etc/profile
  • TEMP, TMP -- /var/tmp
  • RO_RUN_DIR (road-script) -- Current directory at
  • EOL (road-script) -- \r\n or \n as needed
  • SEP (road-script) -- \ or / as needed

Unix commands for Windows

Road Bash redistributes MSYS with selections from GnuWin32, Outwit, and UnxUtils.



  • cat -- Concatenate files
  • cmp -- Compare files
  • chmod -- Change permissions
  • comm -- Compare sorted files
  • cp -- Copy files and directories
  • csplit -- Split into files
  • diff -- Compare text files
  • diff3 -- Three-way comparison
  • file -- Get file type
  • find -- Find files
  • head -- First n lines
  • more, less -- Page output
  • ln -- Link files
  • ls -- List directory
  • mkdir -- Make directory
  • mv -- Move files
  • od -- Octal or hex dump
  • paste -- Paste files together by lines
  • patch -- Patch files
  • pwd -- Print working directory
  • rm -- Remove files and directories
  • rmdir -- Remove directory
  • split -- Split into multiple files
  • stat -- File or directory status
  • tail -- Last n lines
  • tail -f -- Monitor file output
  • touch -- Update file modification


  • cmd -- Invoke Windows cmd
  • d2u -- Convert \r\n to \n in-place
  • docprop -- Properties for Windows doc
  • lnkcnv -- Convert .lnk file to 'ln -s'
  • mkshortcut -- Make Windows shortcut
  • mount, umount -- Mount Windows directory
  • msysinfo -- MSYS versions, PATH, and HOME
  • readlog -- Read Windows event log
  • readshortcut -- Read Windows shortcut
  • start -- Start Windows program
  • u2d -- Inplace \n to \r\n
  • winclip -- Cut and paste the Windows clipboard
  • winreg -- Read and write the Windows registry


Shells and Editors


Script commands

  • basename, dirname -- Extract filepath components
  • date -- Date
  • expr -- Compute expression
  • false -- Always false
  • hostid -- Host ID
  • hostname -- Host name
  • id -- User information
  • sleep -- Sleep n seconds
  • tee -- Capture piped output
  • true -- Always true
  • uname -- System and machine version
  • which -- Which file gets executed
  • whoami -- User name
  • xargs -- Convert filenames to arguments (c.f., find)
  • yes -- Always 'y'


  • df -- Describe file system
  • du -- Disk usage
  • env -- Run command in an environment
  • kill -- Terminate process
  • ps -- List processes

Copyright (c) 2005-2009, Road Intranet