28 Dec 2011 @ 8:00 PM 


A very short one today, but it is usually not very well known.

As you know, Unix uses signals to communicate with processes. A process receives a signal, then takes an action. If no action is defined, the default action for most signals is to kill the process… which is maybe something you want to avoid.

The problem.

You have written the best script in the world, that does… let’s say… make ice-cream (we can dream).

The problem is that if someone kills your script (i.e. kill -15, SIGTEM, which is the default one), you process will simply stop, and throw ice-cream everywhere on the walls. (Ice-cream is here an image for temporary files).

How can you catch this message and close the ice-cream tap and clean-up a bit ?

The Solution.

Use trap.

At the beginning of your script, you can add the following line (after the shebang) :

trap 15 cleanup

This will trap the default SIGTERM, then start the procedure “cleanup” ( you need to define the “cleanup” procedure somewhere).

You can define a function that will do the cleanup for you, maybe add a message in the log, kill sub-processes, send mail, whatever is needed.

The only thing, is that you need to fail proof your function, in order to be sure that your process is not going in an infinite loop, because the way to kill it afterwards is to use another kill.

Note also that not all the signals might be trapped. Some of them, like the signal 9 (SIGKILL) is not trappable in a script.

Thank you for reading, and if I find some time, I’ll talk tomorrow about an inventive way to use the trap function.

Posted By: Dimi
Last Edit: 27 Dec 2011 @ 08:44 PM

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Categories: Bash, Signals, Snippets

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