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koalaman /shellcheck

ShellCheck, a static analysis tool for shell scripts

20.5K Stars 1.1K Forks Last release: 3 months ago (v0.7.1) GNU General Public License v3.0 1.6K Commits 25 Releases

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ShellCheck - A shell script static analysis tool

ShellCheck is a GPLv3 tool that gives warnings and suggestions for bash/sh shell scripts:

Screenshot of a terminal showing problematic shell script lines highlighted

The goals of ShellCheck are

  • To point out and clarify typical beginner's syntax issues that cause a shell to give cryptic error messages.

  • To point out and clarify typical intermediate level semantic problems that cause a shell to behave strangely and counter-intuitively.

  • To point out subtle caveats, corner cases and pitfalls that may cause an advanced user's otherwise working script to fail under future circumstances.

See the gallery of bad code for examples of what ShellCheck can help you identify!

Table of Contents

How to use

There are a number of ways to use ShellCheck!

On the web

Paste a shell script on for instant feedback. is always synchronized to the latest git commit, and is the easiest way to give ShellCheck a go. Tell your friends!

From your terminal


shellcheck yourscript

in your terminal for instant output, as seen above.

In your editor

You can see ShellCheck suggestions directly in a variety of editors.

Screenshot of Vim showing inlined shellcheck feedback.

Screenshot of emacs showing inlined shellcheck feedback.

In your build or test suites

While ShellCheck is mostly intended for interactive use, it can easily be added to builds or test suites. It makes canonical use of exit codes, so you can just add a


command as part of the process.

For example, in a Makefile:

check-scripts: # Fail if any of these files have warnings shellcheck myscripts/\*.sh

or in a Travis CI



script: # Fail if any of these files have warnings - shellcheck myscripts/\*.sh

Services and platforms that have ShellCheck pre-installed and ready to use:

Services and platforms with third party plugins:

Most other services, including GitLab, let you install ShellCheck yourself, either through the system's package manager (see Installing), or by downloading and unpacking a binary release.

It's a good idea to manually install a specific ShellCheck version regardless. This avoids any surprise build breaks when a new version with new warnings is published.

For customized filtering or reporting, ShellCheck can output simple JSON, CheckStyle compatible XML, GCC compatible warnings as well as human readable text (with or without ANSI colors). See theIntegration wiki page for more documentation.


The easiest way to install ShellCheck locally is through your package manager.

On systems with Cabal (installs to



cabal update cabal install ShellCheck

On systems with Stack (installs to



stack update stack install ShellCheck

On Debian based distros:

apt-get install shellcheck

On Arch Linux based distros:

pacman -S shellcheck

or get the dependency free shellcheck-bin from the AUR.

On Gentoo based distros:

emerge --ask shellcheck

On EPEL based distros:

yum -y install epel-release yum install ShellCheck

On Fedora based distros:

dnf install ShellCheck

On FreeBSD:

pkg install hs-ShellCheck

On OS X with homebrew:

brew install shellcheck

On OpenBSD:

pkg\_add shellcheck

On openSUSE

zypper in ShellCheck

Or use OneClickInstall -

On Solus:

eopkg install shellcheck

On Windows (via chocolatey):

C:\\> choco install shellcheck

Or Windows (via scoop):

C:\\> scoop install shellcheck

From Snap Store:

snap install --channel=edge shellcheck

From Docker Hub:

docker run --rm -v "$PWD:/mnt" koalaman/shellcheck:stable myscript # Or :v0.4.7 for that version, or :latest for daily builds

or use


if you want a larger Alpine Linux based image to extend. It works exactly like a regular Alpine image, but has shellcheck preinstalled.

Using the nix package manager:

sh nix-env -iA nixpkgs.shellcheck

Alternatively, you can download pre-compiled binaries for the latest release here:

or see the GitHub Releases for other releases (including the latest meta-release for daily git builds).

Distro packages already come with a


page. If you are building from source, it can be installed with:

pandoc -s -f markdown-smart -t man -o shellcheck.1 sudo mv shellcheck.1 /usr/share/man/man1

Travis CI

Travis CI has now integrated ShellCheck by default, so you don't need to manually install it.

If you still want to do so in order to upgrade at your leisure or ensure you're using the latest release, follow the steps below to install a binary version.

Installing a pre-compiled binary

The pre-compiled binaries come in


files. To decompress them, make sure


is installed. On Debian/Ubuntu/Mint, you can

apt install xz-utils

. On Redhat/Fedora/CentOS,

yum -y install xz


A simple installer may do something like:

scversion="stable" # or "v0.4.7", or "latest" wget -qO- "${scversion?}/shellcheck-${scversion?}.linux.x86\_64.tar.xz" | tar -xJv cp "shellcheck-${scversion}/shellcheck" /usr/bin/ shellcheck --version

Compiling from source

This section describes how to build ShellCheck from a source directory. ShellCheck is written in Haskell and requires 2GB of RAM to compile.

Installing Cabal

ShellCheck is built and packaged using Cabal. Install the package


from your system's package manager (with e.g.








, or



On MacOS (OS X), you can do a fast install of Cabal using brew, which takes a couple of minutes instead of more than 30 minutes if you try to compile it from source.

$ brew install cabal-install

On MacPorts, the package is instead called


, while native Windows users should install the latest version of the Haskell platform from

Verify that


is installed and update its dependency list with

$ cabal update

Compiling ShellCheck

git clone

this repository, and


to the ShellCheck source directory to build/install:

$ cabal install

Or if you intend to run the tests:

$ cabal install --enable-tests

This will compile ShellCheck and install it to your



Add this directory to your


(for bash, add this to your



export PATH="$HOME/.cabal/bin:$PATH"

Log out and in again, and verify that your PATH is set up correctly:

$ which shellcheck ~/.cabal/bin/shellcheck

On native Windows, the


should already be set up, but the system may use a legacy codepage. In




and Powershell ISE, make sure to use a TrueType font, not a Raster font, and set the active codepage to UTF-8 (65001) with



chcp 65001

In Powershell ISE, you may need to additionally update the output encoding:

[Console]::OutputEncoding = [System.Text.Encoding]::UTF8

Running tests

To run the unit test suite:

$ cabal test

Gallery of bad code

So what kind of things does ShellCheck look for? Here is an incomplete list of detected issues.


ShellCheck can recognize several types of incorrect quoting:

echo $1 # Unquoted variables find . -name \*.ogg # Unquoted find/grep patterns rm "~/my file.txt" # Quoted tilde expansion v='--verbose="true"'; cmd $v # Literal quotes in variables for f in "\*.ogg" # Incorrectly quoted 'for' loops touch [email protected] # Unquoted [email protected] echo 'Don't forget to restart!' # Singlequote closed by apostrophe echo 'Don\'t try this at home' # Attempting to escape ' in '' echo 'Path is $PATH' # Variables in single quotes trap "echo Took ${SECONDS}s" 0 # Prematurely expanded trap


ShellCheck can recognize many types of incorrect test statements.

[[n != 0]] # Constant test expressions [[-e \*.mpg]] # Existence checks of globs [[$foo==0]] # Always true due to missing spaces [[-n "$foo "]] # Always true due to literals [[$foo =~ "fo+"]] # Quoted regex in =~ [foo =~ re] # Unsupported [] operators [$1 -eq "shellcheck"] # Numerical comparison of strings [$n && $m] # && in [..] [grep -q foo file] # Command without $(..) [["$$file" == \*.jpg]] # Comparisons that can't succeed (( 1 -lt 2 )) # Using test operators in ((..))

Frequently misused commands

ShellCheck can recognize instances where commands are used incorrectly:

grep '\*foo\*' file # Globs in regex contexts find . -exec foo {} && bar {} \; # Prematurely terminated find -exec sudo echo 'Var=42' \> /etc/profile # Redirecting sudo time --format=%s sleep 10 # Passing time(1) flags to time builtin while read h; do ssh "$h" uptime # Commands eating while loop input alias archive='mv $1 /backup' # Defining aliases with arguments tr -cd '[a-zA-Z0-9]' # [] around ranges in tr exec foo; echo "Done!" # Misused 'exec' find -name \*.bak -o -name \*~ -delete # Implicit precedence in find # find . -exec foo \> bar \; # Redirections in find f() { whoami; }; sudo f # External use of internal functions

Common beginner's mistakes

ShellCheck recognizes many common beginner's syntax errors:

var = 42 # Spaces around = in assignments $foo=42 # $ in assignments for $var in \*; do ... # $ in for loop variables var$n="Hello" # Wrong indirect assignment echo ${var$n} # Wrong indirect reference var=(1, 2, 3) # Comma separated arrays array=( [index] = value ) # Incorrect index initialization echo $var[14] # Missing {} in array references echo "Argument 10 is $10" # Positional parameter misreference if $(myfunction); then ..; fi # Wrapping commands in $() else if othercondition; then .. # Using 'else if' f; f() { echo "hello world; } # Using function before definition [false] # 'false' being true if ( -f file ) # Using (..) instead of test


ShellCheck can make suggestions to improve style:

[[-z $(find /tmp | grep mpg)]] # Use grep -q instead a \>\> log; b \>\> log; c \>\> log # Use a redirection block instead echo "The time is `date`" # Use $() instead cd dir; process \*; cd ..; # Use subshells instead echo $[1+2] # Use standard $((..)) instead of old $[] echo $(($RANDOM % 6)) # Don't use $ on variables in $((..)) echo "$(date)" # Useless use of echo cat file | grep foo # Useless use of cat

Data and typing errors

ShellCheck can recognize issues related to data and typing:

args="[email protected]" # Assigning arrays to strings files=(foo bar); echo "$files" # Referencing arrays as strings declare -A arr=(foo bar) # Associative arrays without index printf "%s\n" "Arguments: [email protected]" # Concatenating strings and arrays [[$# \> 2]] # Comparing numbers as strings var=World; echo "Hello " var # Unused lowercase variables echo "Hello $name" # Unassigned lowercase variables cmd | read bar; echo $bar # Assignments in subshells cat foo | cp bar # Piping to commands that don't read printf '%s: %s\n' foo # Mismatches in printf argument count


ShellCheck can make suggestions for improving the robustness of a script:

rm -rf "$STEAMROOT/"\* # Catastrophic rm touch ./-l; ls \* # Globs that could become options find . -exec sh -c 'a && b {}' \; # Find -exec shell injection printf "Hello $name" # Variables in printf format for f in $(ls \*.txt); do # Iterating over ls output export MYVAR=$(cmd) # Masked exit codes case $version in 2.\*) :;; 2.6.\*) # Shadowed case branches


ShellCheck will warn when using features not supported by the shebang. For example, if you set the shebang to


, ShellCheck will warn about portability issues similar to



echo {1..$n} # Works in ksh, but not bash/dash/sh echo {1..10} # Works in ksh and bash, but not dash/sh echo -n 42 # Works in ksh, bash and dash, undefined in sh trap 'exit 42' sigint # Unportable signal spec cmd &\> file # Unportable redirection operator read foo \< /dev/tcp/host/22 # Unportable intercepted files foo-bar() { ..; } # Undefined/unsupported function name [$UID = 0] # Variable undefined in dash/sh local var=value # local is undefined in sh time sleep 1 | sleep 5 # Undefined uses of 'time'


ShellCheck recognizes a menagerie of other issues:

PS1='\e[0;32m\$\e[0m ' # PS1 colors not in \[..\] PATH="$PATH:~/bin" # Literal tilde in $PATH rm “file” # Unicode quotes echo "Hello world" # Carriage return / DOS line endings echo hello \ # Trailing spaces after \ var=42 echo $var # Expansion of inlined environment #!/bin/bash -x -e # Common shebang errors echo $((n/180\*100)) # Unnecessary loss of precision ls \*[:digit:].txt # Bad character class globs sed 's/foo/bar/' file \> file # Redirecting to input while getopts "a" f; do case $f in "b") # Unhandled getopts flags


At first you're like "shellcheck is awesome" but then you're like "wtf are we still using bash"

Alexander Tarasikov,via Twitter

Ignoring issues

Issues can be ignored via environmental variable, command line, individually or globally within a file:

Reporting bugs

Please use the GitHub issue tracker for any bugs or feature suggestions:


Please submit patches to code or documentation as GitHub pull requests! Check out the DevGuide on the ShellCheck Wiki.

Contributions must be licensed under the GNU GPLv3. The contributor retains the copyright.


ShellCheck is licensed under the GNU General Public License, v3. A copy of this license is included in the file LICENSE.

Copyright 2012-2019, Vidar 'koala_man' Holen and contributors.

Happy ShellChecking!

Other Resources

  • The wiki has long form descriptions for each warning, e.g. SC2221.
  • ShellCheck does not attempt to enforce any kind of formatting or indenting style, so also check out shfmt!

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