Linux Bash Scripting Part5 – Signals and Jobs

Today, we will learn how to run and control them on a Linux system. We can run scripts only from the command-line interface, but this isn’t the only way to run Linux bash scripts.

This post describes the different ways to control your Linux bash scripts.



Linux signals

These are the most common Linux system signals:

Num Name Job
1 SIGHUP Process hangs up.
2 SIGINT Process Interruption.
3 SIGQUIT Proces quit or stop.
9 SIGKILL Process termination.
15 SIGTERM Process termination.
17 SIGSTOP Process stopping without termination.
18 SIGTSTP Process stopping or pausing without termination.
19 SIGCONT Process continuation after stopping.

Your Linux bash scripts don’t control these signals. You can program your bash script to recognize signals and perform commands based on the signal that was sent.


Stop a process

To stop a running process, you can press Ctrl+C, which generates a SIGINT signal to stop the current process running in the shell.

$ sleep 100


Linux bash scripting Signals and Jobs stop process

Pause a process

The Ctrl+Z keys generate a SIGTSTP signal to stop any processes running in the shell, and that leaves the program in memory.

$ sleep 100


pause process

The number between brackets, which is (1), is the job number.

If you try to exit the shell and you have a stopped job assigned to your shell, the bash warns you if you.

You can use the ps command to view the stopped jobs.

ps –l

ps -l

In the S column (process state), it shows the traced (T) or stopped (S) states.

If you want to terminate a stopped job, you can kill its process by using the kill command.

kill processID


Trap Signals

To trap signals, you can use the trap command. If the script gets a signal defined by the trap command, it stops processing, and instead, the script handles the signal.

You can trap signals using the trap command like this:

trap "echo 'Ctrl-C was trapped'" SIGINT
while [ $total -le 3 ]; do
	echo "#$total"
	sleep 2
	total=$(($total + 1))

Every time you press Ctrl+C, the signal is trapped, and the message is printed.

trap signal

If you press Ctrl+C, the echo statement specified in the trap command is printed instead of stopping the script. Cool, right?


Trapping the script exit

You can trap the shell script exit using the trap command like this:

# Add the EXIT signal to trap it
trap "echo Goodbye..." EXIT
while [ $total -le 3 ]; do
	echo "#$total"
	sleep 2
	total=$(($total + 1))

trap exit

When the bash script exits, the Goodbye message is printed as expected.

Also, if you exit the script before finishing its work, the EXIT trap will be fired.


Modifying or removing a trap

You can reissue the trap command with new options like this:

trap "echo 'Ctrl-C is trapped.'" SIGINT
while [ $total -le 3 ]; do
	echo "Loop #$total"
	sleep 2
	total=$(($total + 1))
# Trap the SIGINT
trap "echo ' The trap changed'" SIGINT
while [ $total -le 3 ]; do
	echo "Second Loop #$total"
	sleep 1
	total=$(($total + 1))

modify trap

Notice how the script manages the signal after changing the signal trap.

You can also remove a trap by using two dashes.

trap -- SIGNAL
trap "echo 'Ctrl-C is trapped.'" SIGINT
while [ $total -le 3 ]; do
	echo "#$total"
	sleep 1
	total=$(($total + 1))
trap -- SIGINT
echo "I just removed the trap"
while [ $total -le 3 ]; do
	echo "Loop #2 #$total"
	sleep 2
	total=$(($total + 1))

Notice how the script processes the signal before removing the trap and after removing the trap.

$ ./myscript


remove trap

The first Ctrl+C was trapped, and the script continues running while the second one exits the script because the trap was removed.


Running Linux Bash scripts in background mode

If you see the output of the ps command, you will see all the running processes in the background and not tied to the terminal.

We can do the same, just place ampersand symbol (&) after the command.

while [ $total -le 3 ]; do
	sleep 2
	total=$(($total + 1))
$ ./myscipt &

run in background

Once you’ve done that, the script runs in a separate background process on the system, and you can see the process id between the square brackets.

When the script dies,  you will see a message on the terminal.

Notice that while the background process is running, you can use your terminal monitor for STDOUT and STDERR messages, so if an error occurs, you will see the error message and normal output.

run script in background

The background process will exit if you exit your terminal session.

So what if you want to continue running even if you close the terminal?


Running scripts without a hang-up

You can run your Linux bash scripts in the background process even if you exit the terminal session using the nohup command.

The nohup command blocks any SIGHUP signals. It prevents the process from exiting when you exit your terminal.

$ nohup ./myscript &

linux bash nohup command

After running the nohup command, you can’t see any output or error from your script. You sent the output and error messages to a file called nohup.out.

Note: when running multiple commands from the same directory will override the nohup.out file content.


Viewing jobs

To view the current jobs, you can use the jobs command.

while [ $total -le 3 ]; do
	echo "#$count"
	sleep 5
	total=$(($total + 1))

Then run it.

$ ./myscript

Then press Ctrl+Z to stop the script.

linux bash view jobs

Run the same bash script but in the background using the ampersand symbol and redirect the output to a file just for clarification.

$ ./myscript > outfile &

linux bash list jobs

The jobs command shows the stopped and running jobs.

jobs –l

-l parameter to view the process ID


Restarting stopped jobs

You can use the bg command to restart a job in background mode.

$ ./myscript

Then press Ctrl+Z

Now it is stopped.

$ bg

linux bash restart job

After using the bg command, it is now running in background mode.

If you have multiple stopped jobs, you can do the same by specifying the job number to the bg command.

You can use the fg command to restart a job in foreground mode.

$ fg 1


Scheduling a job

The Linux system provides two ways to run a bash script at a predefined time:

  • at command.
  • cron table.

The at command

This is the format of the command

at [-f filename] time

The at command can accept different time formats:

  • Standard time format like 10:15.
  • An AM/PM indicator like 11:15 PM.
  • A named time like now, midnight.

You can include a specific date, using some different date formats:

  • A standard date format, such as MMDDYY or DD.MM.YY.
  • A text date, such as June 10 or Feb 12, with or without the year.
  • Now + 25 minutes.
  • 05:15 AM tomorrow.
  • 11:15 + 7 days.

We don’t want to dig deep into the at command, but for now, just make it simple.

$ at -f ./myscript now

linux bash at command

You can use the -M parameter to send the output to email if the system has email, and if not, this will suppress the output of the at command.

To list the pending jobs, use the atq command:

linux bash at queue


Remove pending jobs

To remove a pending job, use the atrm command:

$ atrm 18

delete at queue

You must specify the job number to the atrm command.


Scheduling scripts

What if you need to run a script at the same time every day or every month or so?

You can use the crontab command to schedule jobs.

To list the scheduled jobs, use the -l parameter:

$ crontab –l

The format for crontab is:

minute,hour, dayofmonth, month, and dayofweek

So if you want to run a command daily at 10:30, type the following:

30 10 * * * command

The wildcard character (*) used to indicate that the cron will execute the command daily on every month at 10:30.

To run a command at 5:30 PM every Tuesday, you would use the following:

30 17 * * 2 command

The day of the week starts from 0 to 6, where Sunday=0 and Saturday=6.

To run a command at 10:00 on the beginning of every month:

00 10 1 * * command

The day of the month is from 1 to 31.

Let’s keep it simple for now, and we will discuss the cron in great detail in future posts.

To edit the cron table, use the -e parameter like this:

crontab –e

Then type your command like the following:

 30 10 * * * /home/likegeeks/Desktop/myscript

This will schedule our script to run at 10:30 every day.

Note: sometimes, you see error says Resource temporarily unavailable.

All you have to do is this:

$ rm -f /var/run/

You should be a root user to do this.

Just that simple!

You can use one of the pre-configured cron script directories like:





Just put your bash script file on any of these directories, and it will run periodically.


Starting scripts at login

~/.bashrc – Put your scripts here and it will run every time you open a new terminal.

~/.xprofile – Scripts here will run by the X Window system when you log in to a graphical desktop environment such as GNOME or KDE.

/etc/X11/Xsession.d/ – You can use this directory if you are using a GUI interface in Linux to run your scripts at startup.

/etc/profile – This file contains global environment variables and settings that are applied to all users on the system.

I hope you find the post useful. Keep coming back.

Thank you.

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