cdarke cdarke - 5 months ago 30
Linux Question

Sub-shell diffferences between bash and ksh

I always believed that a sub-shell was not a child process, but another
shell environment in the same process.

I use a basic set of built-ins:

(echo "Hello";read)


On another terminal:

ps -t pts/0
PID TTY TIME CMD
20104 pts/0 00:00:00 ksh


So, no child process in kornShell (ksh).

Enter bash, it appears to behave differently, given the same command:

PID TTY TIME CMD
3458 pts/0 00:00:00 bash
20067 pts/0 00:00:00 bash


So, a child process in bash.

From reading the man pages for bash, it is obvious that another process is created for a sub-shell,
however it fakes $$, which is sneeky.

Is this difference between bash and ksh expected, or am I reading the symptoms incorrectly?

Edit: additional information:
Running
strace -f
on bash and ksh on Linux shows that bash calls
clone
twice for the sample command (it does not call
fork
). So bash might be using threads (I tried
ltrace
but it core dumped!).
KornShell calls neither
fork
,
vfork
, nor
clone
.

Answer

ksh93 works unusually hard to avoid subshells. Part of the reason is the avoidance of stdio and extensive use of sfio which allows builtins to communicate directly. Another reason is ksh can in theory have so many builtins. If built with SHOPT_CMDLIB_DIR, all of the cmdlib builtins are included and enabled by default. I can't give a comprehensive list of places where subshells are avoided, but it's typically in situations where only builtins are used, and where there are no redirects.

#!/usr/bin/env ksh

# doCompat arr
# "arr" is an indexed array name to be assigned an index corresponding to the detected shell.
# 0 = Bash, 1 = Ksh93, 2 = mksh
function doCompat {
    ${1:+:} return 1
    if [[ ${BASH_VERSION+_} ]]; then
        shopt -s lastpipe extglob
        eval "${1}[0]="
    else
        case "${BASH_VERSINFO[*]-${!KSH_VERSION}}" in
            .sh.version)
                nameref v=$1
                v[1]=
                if builtin pids; then
                    function BASHPID.get { .sh.value=$(pids -f '%(pid)d'); }
                elif [[ -r /proc/self/stat ]]; then
                    function BASHPID.get { read -r .sh.value _ </proc/self/stat; }
                else
                    function BASHPID.get { .sh.value=$(exec sh -c 'echo $PPID'); }
                fi 2>/dev/null
                ;;
            KSH_VERSION)
                nameref "_${1}=$1"
                eval "_${1}[2]="
                ;&
            *)
                if [[ ! ${BASHPID+_} ]]; then
                    echo 'BASHPID requires Bash, ksh93, or mksh >= R41' >&2
                    return 1
                fi
        esac
    fi
}

function main {
    typeset -a myShell
    doCompat myShell || exit 1 # stripped-down compat function.
    typeset x

    print -v .sh.version
    x=$(print -nv BASHPID; print -nr " $$"); print -r "$x" # comsubs are free for builtins with no redirections 
    _=$({ print -nv BASHPID; print -r " $$"; } >&2)        # but not with a redirect
    _=$({ printf '%s ' "$BASHPID" $$; } >&2); echo         # nor for expansions with a redirect
    _=$(printf '%s ' "$BASHPID" $$ >&2); echo # but if expansions aren't redirected, they occur in the same process.
    _=${ { print -nv BASHPID; print -r " $$"; } >&2; }     # However, ${ ;} is always subshell-free (obviously).
    ( printf '%s ' "$BASHPID" $$ ); echo                   # Basically the same rules apply to ( )
    read -r x _ <<<$(</proc/self/stat); print -r "$x $$"   # These are free in {{m,}k,z}sh. Only Bash forks for this.
    printf '%s ' "$BASHPID" $$ | cat # Sadly, pipes always fork. It isn't possible to precisely mimic "printf -v".
    echo
} 2>&1

main "$@"

out:

Version AJM 93v- 2013-02-22
31732 31732
31735 31732
31736 31732 
31732 31732 
31732 31732
31732 31732 
31732 31732
31738 31732

Another neat consequence of all this internal I/O handling is some buffering issues just go away. Here's a funny example of reading lines with tee and head builtins (don't try this in any other shell).

 $ ksh -s <<\EOF
integer -a x
builtin head tee
printf %s\\n {1..10} |
    while head -n 1 | [[ ${ { x+=("$(tee /dev/fd/{3,4})"); } 3>&1; } ]] 4>&1; do
        print -r -- "${x[@]}"
    done
EOF
1
0 1
2
0 1 2
3
0 1 2 3
4
0 1 2 3 4
5
0 1 2 3 4 5
6
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
7
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
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