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35.2. Bash, version 3

On July 27, 2004, Chet Ramey released version 3 of Bash. This update fixes quite a number of bug in Bash and adds some new features.

Some of the added features are:

  • A new, more generalized {a..z} brace expansion operator.

    for i in {1..10}
    #  Simpler and more straightforward than
    #+ for i in $(seq 10)
      echo -n "$i "
    # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

  • The ${!array[@]} operator, which expands to all the indices of a given array.

    Array=(element-zero element-one element-two element-three)
    echo ${Array[0]}   # element-zero
                       # First element of array.
    echo ${!Array[@]}  # 0 1 2 3
                       # All the indices of Array.
    for i in ${!Array[@]}
      echo ${Array[i]} # element-zero
                       # element-one
                       # element-two
                       # element-three
                       # All the elements in Array.

  • The =~ Regular Expression matching operator within a double brackets test expression. (Perl has a similar operator.)

    variable="This is a fine mess."
    echo "$variable"
    if [[ "$variable" =~ "T*fin*es*" ]]
    # Regex matching with =~ operator within [[ double brackets ]].
      echo "match found"
          # match found

    Or, more usefully:

    if [[ "$input" =~ "[1-9][0-9][0-9]-[0-9][0-9]-[0-9][0-9][0-9][0-9]" ]]
    # Where each N is a digit.
    # But, initial digit must not be 0.
      echo "Social Security number."
      # Process SSN.
      echo "Not a Social Security number!"
      # Or, ask for corrected input.


The update to version 3 of Bash breaks a few scripts that worked under earlier versions. Test critical legacy scripts to make sure they still work!

As it happens, a couple of the scripts in the Advanced Bash Scripting Guide had to be fixed up (see Example A-20, for instance).

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