Shell Scripting - Arguments / Positional Parameters

In this series of Shell Scripting, today we discuss about command line arguments also know as positional parameters.

To handle options on the command line, we use a facility in the shell called positional parameters. Positional parameters are a series of special variables ($0 through $9) that contain the contents of the command line.

For Example:

[]$ Swapnil Jain Indore

If is a shell script, we could read each item on the command line because the positional parameters contain the following:

  • $0 would contain ""
  • $1 would contain "Swapnil"
  • $2 would contain "Jain"
  • $3 would contain "Indore"

Here is a simple script you would like to try:


echo "Program Name is $0"  
echo "First Name is $1"  
echo "Last Name is $2"  
echo "City is $3"  


[]$ ./ Swapnil Jain Indore
Program Name is ./  
First Name is Swapnil  
Last Name is Jain  
City is Indore  
Improving your Script

You can further improve this script by using some help and error handling


if [ $# -lt 3 ];then  
   echo "ERROR: minimum 3 paramerts required"
   echo "Example: fname lname city"
   echo "Program Name is $0"
   echo "First Name is $1"
   echo "Last Name is $2"
   echo "City is $3"
  • $# - contains the total number of parameters

You can play a lot with shell script, create simple programs to automate task. Stay tuned for more. Thats it for positional parameters.

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Swapnil Jain

RHCA Level IX, RHCI ♦ Solution Architect ♦ DevOps Trainer & Consultant