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Embedded shell (QNX)


esh [-c command] [-irv] [script_file]


-c command
Run this command.
Enter interactive mode after running a script file. If you don't specify this option, esh will terminate after running a script.
Run in restricted mode. In this mode, you can't perform certain operations. If you try to, you'll see the error message, "Operation not permitted."

Restricted operations include creating remote processes and specifying a path that starts with a double slash for cd and other command names. For more information, see the sections "Command-line format" and "Built-in commands."

Be verbose: echo each command before executing it.
A file containing shell commands to execute.


The esh utility provides a subset of the functionality found in the standard QNX Shell, /bin/sh. You should find esh useful for situations where memory requirements are limited. For example, you could use it to run a simple system initialization file for an embedded system.

Command-line format:

In esh, command lines take this form:


The node the command is to be executed on. Remote execution isn't allowed in restricted mode. See the section entitled "Remote execution" for the sh utility.
The command to be executed. If it doesn't start with a slash, the command will follow the path set by the PATH environment variable. In restricted mode, a command can't start with a slash.
redir-op file
A redirection operator. When a command is invoked, three standard files are set up in its environment. These files, standard input, standard output, and standard error output (stdin, stdout, stderr), are usually attached to the active terminal. You can redirect a command's standard input, standard output, and standard error as follows:
Specifying:  Will:
<file redirect standard input from this file.
>file redirect standard output to this file. If the file exists, it's overwritten; if the file doesn't exist, it's created.
>>file redirect standard output to this file. If the file exists, the information is appended to the end of the file; if the file doesn't exist, it's created.
2>file do the same as >file, but for standard error.
2>>file do the same as >>file, but for standard error.
& If a command contains an unquoted &, then esh doesn't wait for the command to complete execution but immediately moves on to process the next command. The standard input of the command is redirected from /dev/null, and SIGINT and SIGQUIT are ignored.

Filename expansion:

You use most QNX commands for manipulating files in one way or another. As such, esh has a filename "shorthand" (consisting of *, ?, [, and ]) you can use to specify the files that a command is to operate on. This shorthand is the same used by the standard QNX Shell. For more information, see "Filename expansion" in sh.


The following characters have a special meaning in esh:

    &  \  "  *  ?  [  space

To suppress the special meaning of these characters and keep their literal meaning, you use quoting.

To quote a sequence of characters or sequence of words, enclose the sequence in double quotes. To quote a single character, use double quotes or precede it with the escape character (\).

Escape character (backslash)

The escape character (\) preserves the literal meaning of the next character. You can't obtain a single backslash by quoting \ with double quotes. To obtain a backslash, enter \\ instead.

Double quotes

Enclosing characters and words in double quotes ("") preserves the literal meaning of all characters within double quotes, with the exception of the \ character. For example:

    "ab cd"

represents a single, five-character argument.

You can keep the literal meaning of a double quote with the \ character. For example:


represents the single, five-character argument ab"cd.

Builtin commands:

The following commands are built into esh. That is, esh interprets and executes them internally.

list aliases

alias [name=value]...

Without arguments, alias lists all aliases and their values. If only the name is specified, its value is listed. Any name specified with a value defines an alias.

Alias expansion occurs when the first word of a statement is a defined alias, except when that alias is already being expanded.

List all aliases:


Remove an alias:

    alias name=
change working directory

cd [directory]

The cd utility changes the working directory of the current execution environment. If directory isn't specified, the value of the HOME environment variable becomes the new working directory.

. file
execute commands in the current environment. The . (dot) command reads and executes the commands from file within the current environment. The search path contained in the environment variable PATH is used to find the directory containing file. This command doesn't require that file be executable.
execute a command and/or manipulate file descriptors

exec [command [argument...]]

The exec command opens, closes, or copies file descriptors as specified by any I/O redirections given as part of argument. If a command is specified, that command is spawned as a replacement for esh. Any specified arguments are passed to the spawned process.

If esh is operating in restricted mode (-r), the exec command cannot be used.

cause esh to exit

exit [n]

The exit command causes esh to exit with the exit status specified by n. If n isn't specified, esh exits with the status of the last command executed.

mark environment variables for export

export name[=word]...
export -p

The export command marks the specified names for export, which will cause them to be in the environment of subsequently executed commands. If you specify the -p option, the names and values of all exported variables are written to the standard output.

If restricted mode (-r) is set, you can't use this command.

kill pid
set a SIGTERM on the process with process ID pid.
attach input and output to a device

reopen [device]

The reopen command closes standard input, standard output, and standard error and attaches them to the specified device. This command is often used in sysinit files. If you don't specify a device, //0/dev/con1 is used.

If restricted mode (-r) is set, you can't use this command.

set -v
Enable verbose mode.

This command causes all commands to be echoed to the standard output before they're executed.


Invoke a subshell:


Invoke a subshell with a script file:

    esh /etc/backup

Run the following command and exit:

    esh -c "ls /bin"


ASCII text file containing shell commands. It is executed when esh is started as a login shell.

Environment variables:

You can use the following variables to modify esh's environment:

The pathname of the user's home directory
The user's login name.
The directory search path used by esh for locating executable programs and esh shell scripts. To change PATH, you must use the export command.

If PATH isn't in the existing environment when esh is invoked, it is set to /bin:/usr/bin.

The pathname of the user's preferred shell.
The terminal type.
The pathname of a directory that can be used by utilities that need a place to create temporary files.
The timezone setting.

See also:

sh, uesh

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