Loop Unix

In this chapter, we will discuss shell loops in Unix. A loop is a powerful programming tool that enables you to execute a set of commands repeatedly. In this chapter, we will examine the following types of loops available to shell programmers −

  • The while loop
  • The for loop
  • The until loop
  • The select loop

You will use different loops based on the situation. For example, the while loop executes the given commands until the given condition remains true; the until loop executes until a given condition becomes true.

Once you have good programming practice you will gain the expertise and thereby, start using appropriate loops based on the situation. Here, while and for loops are available in most of the other programming languages like CC++ and PERL, etc.

Nesting Loops

All the loops support nesting concepts which means you can put one loop inside another similar one or different loops. This nesting can go up to an unlimited number of times based on your requirement.

Here is an example of nesting while loop. The other loops can be nested based on the programming requirement in a similar way −

Nesting while Loops

It is possible to use a while loop as part of the body of another while loop.

Syntax

while command1 ; # this is loop1, the outer loop

do

   Statement(s) to be executed if command1 is true

   while command2 ; # this is loop2, the inner loop

   do

      Statement(s) to be executed if command2 is true

   done

   Statement(s) to be executed if command1 is true

done

Example

Here is a simple example of loop nesting. Let’s add another countdown loop inside the loop that you used to count to nine −

#!/bin/sh

a=0

while [ “$a” -lt 10 ]    # this is loop1

do

   b=”$a”

   while [ “$b” -ge 0 ]  # this is loop2

   do

      echo -n “$b “

      b=`expr $b – 1`

   done

   echo

   a=`expr $a + 1`

done

This will produce the following result. It is important to note how echo -n works here. Here -n option lets echo avoid printing a new line character.

0

1 0

2 1 0

3 2 1 0

4 3 2 1 0

5 4 3 2 1 0

6 5 4 3 2 1 0

7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

While loop

The while loop enables you to execute a set of commands repeatedly until some condition occurs. It is usually used when you need to manipulate the value of a variable repeatedly.

Syntax

while command

do

   Statement(s) to be executed if command is true

done

Here the Shell command is evaluated. If the resulting value is true, given statement(s) are executed. If command is false then no statement will be executed and the program will jump to the next line after the done statement.

Example

Here is a simple example that uses the while loop to display the numbers zero to nine −

Live Demo

#!/bin/sh

a=0

while [ $a -lt 10 ]

do

   echo $a

   a=`expr $a + 1`

done

Upon execution, you will receive the following result −

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

For loop

The for loop operates on lists of items. It repeats a set of commands for every item in a list.

Syntax

for var in word1 word2 … wordN

do

   Statement(s) to be executed for every word.

done

Here var is the name of a variable and word1 to wordN are sequences of characters separated by spaces (words). Each time the for loop executes, the value of the variable var is set to the next word in the list of words, word1 to wordN.

Example

Here is a simple example that uses the for loop to span through the given list of numbers −

Live Demo

#!/bin/sh

for var in 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

do

   echo $var

done

Upon execution, you will receive the following result −

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Following is the example to display all the files starting with .bash and available in your home. We will execute this script from my root −

#!/bin/sh

for FILE in $HOME/.bash*

do

   echo $FILE

done

The above script will produce the following result −

/root/.bash_history

/root/.bash_logout

/root/.bash_profile

/root/.bashrc

 ______________________________________________

The while loop is perfect for a situation where you need to execute a set of commands while some condition is true. Sometimes you need to execute a set of commands until a condition is true.

Table of Contents

Syntax

until command

do

   Statement(s) to be executed until command is true

done

Here the Shell command is evaluated. If the resulting value is false, given statement(s) are executed. If the command is true then no statement will be executed and the program jumps to the next line after the done statement.

Example

Here is a simple example that uses the until loop to display the numbers zero to nine −

#!/bin/sh

a=0

until [ ! $a -lt 10 ]

do

   echo $a

   a=`expr $a + 1`

done

Upon execution, you will receive the following result −

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

The select loop provides an easy way to create a numbered menu from which users can select options. It is useful when you need to ask the user to choose one or more items from a list of choices.

Syntax

select var in word1 word2 … wordN

do

   Statement(s) to be executed for every word.

done

Here var is the name of a variable and word1 to wordN are sequences of characters separated by spaces (words). Each time the for loop executes, the value of the variable var is set to the next word in the list of words, word1 to wordN.

For every selection, a set of commands will be executed within the loop. This loop was introduced in ksh and has been adapted into bash. It is not available in sh.

Example

Here is a simple example to let the user select a drink of choice −

Live Demo

#!/bin/ksh

select DRINK in tea cofee water juice appe all none

do

   case $DRINK in

      tea|cofee|water|all) 

         echo “Go to canteen”

         ;;

      juice|appe)

         echo “Available at home”

      ;;

      none) 

         break 

      ;;

      *) echo “ERROR: Invalid selection” 

      ;;

   esac

done

The menu presented by the select loop looks like the following −

$./test.sh

1) tea

2) cofee

3) water

4) juice

5) appe

6) all

7) none

#? juice

Available at home

#? none

$

You can change the prompt displayed by the select loop by altering the variable PS3 as follows −

$PS3 = “Please make a selection => ” ; export PS3

$./test.sh

1) tea

2) cofee

3) water

4) juice

5) appe

6) all

7) none

Please make a selection => juice

Available at home

Please make a selection => none

$

2 thoughts on “Loop Unix”

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: