Martin Martin - 2 months ago 3x
Bash Question

Am I setting this script up correctly to run specific commands based on user input?

I have a small script that I am working on. This is only the second script that I have made using


Basically what I am wanting this script to do is take the users input and fire a command based on that choice.

As you can see the user first enters the host address of the instance they are going to ssh into and ultimately tail logs on. There are a couple things that I am not understanding.

  1. If / Then / Else / Elif - The concept seems simple enough but perhaps how these should be used eludes me.

  2. When I run my script through a bash parser, the parser comes back with the following message:

Line 2:
if [ "$mainmenuinput" = "1" ]; then
^-- SC2154: mainmenuinput is referenced but not assigned.

mainmenu() {
if [ "$mainmenuinput" = "1" ]; then
ssh "$customerurl" tail -f /data/jirastudio/jira/j2ee_*/log/main/current
elif [ "$mainmenuinput" = "2" ]; then
ssh "$customerurl" tail -f /data/jirastudio/confluence/j2ee_*/log/main/current
elif [ "$mainmenuinput" = "3" ]; then
ssh "$customerurl" tail -f /data/jirastudio/horde/service/log/main/current
elif [ "$mainmenuinput" = "4" ]; then
ssh "$customerurl" tail -f /data/jirastudio/apache/logs/access_log

printf "\nEnter the customers host URL:\n"
read -r customerurl

printf "Press 1 for JIRA\n"
printf "Press 2 for Confluence\n"
printf "Press 3 for Horde\n"
printf "Press 4 for Apache Access\n"
printf "Press 5 for Apache Error\n"
read -p -r "Make your choice:" "$mainmenuinput"

Looking up the SC2154 entry I found that it means this:

ShellCheck has noticed that you reference a variable that is not assigned. Double check that the variable is indeed assigned, and that the name is not misspelled.

I am a little confused on what that means. If someone can explain that, I would greatly appreciate it.

As it stands, when I run the script, it pauses to wait for the user to enter the host address. The user hits
and the script then presents them with the menu to have them choose which log they want to tail. The menu looks a little odd:

Press 1 for JIRA
Press 2 for Confluence
Press 3 for Horde
Press 4 for Apache Access
Press 5 for Apache Error

Im not sure why the
is showing up at the end of the menu. When a selection is made, the script ends and outputs this:

./ line 23: read:
Make your choice:': not a valid identifier`

Any help with this would be appreciated or if anything a push in the right direction. I love figuring this stuff out but sometimes, its helpful to get shoved at least in the general direction of the error/resolution.



The main problems are with the read command at the end. First, whatever immediately follows the -p option is used as a prompt string; in this case, the next argument is "-r", so it prints that as a prompt. You clearly want "Make your choice:" to be the prompt, so that must go immediately after -p (i.e. use either read -r -p "Make your choice:" ... or read -p "Make your choice:" -r ...). Second, when you use $mainmenuinput, it replaces that with the current value of mainmenuinput. In the shell, you use $variable to get the value of a variable, not to set it. With both of these problems corrected, the last command becomes:

read -p "Make your choice:" -r mainmenuinput

There's also another important thing: after reading the users' input, you need to actually call the mainmenu function. So just add mainmenu as the last line.

As for the if ... then ... elif ... structure, yours looks fine; I'm not sure what the question is. Although personally I'd add an else clause that printed an error that the option was not valid.

I do have some stylistic/best practice recommendations, though:

  • It's best to pass information to functions in the form of arguments, rather than global variables. That is, rather than using customerurl and mainmenuinput directly in the function, pass them as arguments (mainmenu "$customerurl" "$mainmenuinput"), then reference those arguments ("$1" and "$2") inside the functions. This doesn't matter much in a small script like this, but having clear distinctions between the variables used by different parts of a program makes things much easier to keep straight in larger programs.

  • In shell scripts, printf is the best way to do complex things like printing lines without a linefeed at the end, or translating escape characters... but if you're just doing a standard print-a-line-with-a-linefeed-at-the-end, echo is simpler. Thus, I'd replace the various printf "something\n" commands with echo "something", and printf "\nEnter the customers host URL:\n" with:

    echo "Enter the customers host URL:"
  • In the command

    ssh "$customerurl" tail -f /data/jirastudio/jira/j2ee_*/log/main/current

    (or ssh "$1" ... if you follow my recommendation about arguments instead of global variables), the wildcard (*) will be expanded on the local computer before being handed to ssh and passed to the remote computer to be executed. It'd be best to quote that argument to prevent that:

    ssh "$customerurl" tail -f "/data/jirastudio/jira/j2ee_*/log/main/current"

    Note that the quotes will be removed before it's passed to ssh and then to the remote computer, so they will not prevent the wildcard from being expanded on the remote computer.

  • The thing you're calling a URL isn't actually a URL; URLs are things like "". They start with a protocol (or "scheme") like "http" or "ftp", then "://", then a server name, then "/", etc. ssh just takes a raw server name (optionally with a username, in the form user@server).