Posts Tagged ‘bash shell scripts’

How to build Linux logging bash shell script write_log, logging with Named Pipe buffer, Simple Linux common log files logging with logger command

Monday, August 26th, 2019


Logging into file in GNU / Linux and FreeBSD is as simple as simply redirecting the output, e.g.:

echo "$(date) Whatever" >> /home/hipo/log/output_file_log.txt

or with pyping to tee command


echo "$(date) Service has Crashed" | tee -a /home/hipo/log/output_file_log.txt

But what if you need to create a full featured logging bash robust shell script function that will run as a daemon continusly as a background process and will output
all content from itself to an external log file?
In below article, I've given example logging script in bash, as well as small example on how a specially crafted Named Pipe buffer can be used that will later store to a file of choice.
Finally I found it interesting to mention few words about logger command which can be used to log anything to many of the common / general Linux log files stored under /var/log/ – i.e. /var/log/syslog /var/log/user /var/log/daemon /var/log/mail etc.

1. Bash script function for logging write_log();

Perhaps the simplest method is just to use a small function routine in your shell script like this:

  while read text
      LOGTIME=`date "+%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S"`
      # If log file is not defined, just echo the output
      if [ “$LOG_FILE” == “” ]; then
    echo $LOGTIME": $text";
        LOG=$LOG_FILE.`date +%Y%m%d`
    touch $LOG
        if [ ! -f $LOG ]; then echo "ERROR!! Cannot create log file $LOG. Exiting."; exit 1; fi
    echo $LOGTIME": $text" | tee -a $LOG;


  •  Using the script from within itself or from external to write out to defined log file


echo "Skipping to next copy" | write_log


2. Use Unix named pipes to pass data – Small intro on what is Unix Named Pipe.

Named Pipe –  a named pipe (also known as a FIFO (First In First Out) for its behavior) is an extension to the traditional pipe concept on Unix and Unix-like systems, and is one of the methods of inter-process communication (IPC). The concept is also found in OS/2 and Microsoft Windows, although the semantics differ substantially. A traditional pipe is "unnamed" and lasts only as long as the process. A named pipe, however, can last as long as the system is up, beyond the life of the process. It can be deleted if no longer used.
Usually a named pipe appears as a file, and generally processes attach to it for IPC.


Once named pipes were shortly explained for those who hear it for a first time, its time to say named pipe in unix / linux is created with mkfifo command, syntax is straight foward:

mkfifo /tmp/name-of-named-pipe

Some older Linux-es with older bash and older bash shell scripts were using mknod.
So idea behind logging script is to use a simple named pipe read input and use date command to log the exact time the command was executed, here is the script.


/tmp/output-named-log.txt ';

if [ -p $named_pipe ]; then
rm -f $named_pipe
mkfifo $named_pipe

while true; do
read LINE <$named_pipe
echo $(date): "$LINE" >>/tmp/output-named-log.txt

To write out any other script output and get logged now, any of your output with a nice current date command generated output write out any output content to the loggin buffer like so:


echo 'Using Named pipes is so cool' > /tmp/output-named-pipe
echo 'Disk is full on a trigger' > /tmp/output-named-pipe

  • Getting the output with the date timestamp

# cat /tmp/output-named-log.txt
Mon Aug 26 15:21:29 EEST 2019: Using Named pipes is so cool
Mon Aug 26 15:21:54 EEST 2019: Disk is full on a trigger

If you wonder why it is better to use Named pipes for logging, they perform better (are generally quicker) than Unix sockets.


3. Logging files to system log files with logger


If you need to do a one time quick way to log any message of your choice with a standard Logging timestamp, take a look at logger (a part of bsdutils Linux package), and is a command which is used to enter messages into the system log, to use it simply invoke it with a message and it will log your specified output by default to /var/log/syslog common logfile


root@linux:/root# logger 'Here we go, logging'
root@linux:/root # tail -n 3 /var/log/syslog
Aug 26 15:41:01 localhost CRON[24490]: (root) CMD (chown qscand:qscand -R /var/run/clamav/ 2>&1 >/dev/null)
Aug 26 15:42:01 localhost CRON[24547]: (root) CMD (chown qscand:qscand -R /var/run/clamav/ 2>&1 >/dev/null)
Aug 26 15:42:20 localhost hipo: Here we go, logging


If you have took some time to read any of the init.d scripts on Debian / Fedora / RHEL / CentOS Linux etc. you will notice the logger logging facility is heavily used.

With logger you can print out message with different priorities (e.g. if you want to write an error message to mail.* logs), you can do so with:

 logger -i -p mail.err "Output of mail processing script"

To log a normal non-error (priority message) with logger to /var/log/mail.log system log.


 logger -i -p mail.notice "Output of mail processing script"

A whole list of supported facility named priority valid levels by logger (as taken of its current Linux manual) are as so:


       Valid facility names are:

              authpriv   for security information of a sensitive nature
              kern       cannot be generated from userspace process, automatically converted to user
              security   deprecated synonym for auth

       Valid level names are:

              panic     deprecated synonym for emerg
              error     deprecated synonym for err
              warn      deprecated synonym for warning

       For the priority order and intended purposes of these facilities and levels, see syslog(3).


If you just want to log to Linux main log file (be it /var/log/syslog or /var/log/messages), depending on the Linux distribution, just type', even without any shell quoting:


logger 'The reason to reboot the server Currently was a System security Update


So what others is logger useful for?

 In addition to being a good diagnostic tool, you can use logger to test if all basic system logs with its respective priorities work as expected, this is especially
useful as I've seen on a Cloud Holsted OpenXEN based servers as a SAP consultant, that sometimes logging to basic log files stops to log for months or even years due to
syslog and syslog-ng problems hungs by other thirt party scripts and programs.
To test test all basic logging and priority on system logs as expected use the following shell script.


for i in {auth,auth-priv,cron,daemon,kern, \
lpr,mail,mark,news,syslog,user,uucp,local0 \

# (this is all one line!)


for k in {debug,info,notice,warning,err,crit,alert,emerg}

logger -p $i.$k "Test daemon message, facility $i priority $k"



Note that on different Linux distribution verions, the facility and priority names might differ so, if you get

logger: unknown facility name: {auth,auth-priv,cron,daemon,kern,lpr,mail,mark,news, \
syslog,user,uucp,local0,local1,local2,local3,local4, \

check and set the proper naming as described in logger man page.


4. Using a file descriptor that will output to a pre-set log file

Another way is to add the following code to the beginning of the script

exec 3>&1 4>&2
trap 'exec 2>&4 1>&3' 0 1 2 3
exec 1>log.out 2>&1
# Everything below will go to the file 'log.out':

The code Explaned

  •     Saves file descriptors so they can be restored to whatever they were before redirection or used themselves to output to whatever they were before the following redirect.
    trap 'exec 2>&4 1>&3' 0 1 2 3
  •     Restore file descriptors for particular signals. Not generally necessary since they should be restored when the sub-shell exits.

          exec 1>log.out 2>&1

  •     Redirect stdout to file log.out then redirect stderr to stdout. Note that the order is important when you want them going to the same file. stdout must be redirected before stderr is redirected to stdout.

From then on, to see output on the console (maybe), you can simply redirect to &3. For example

echo "$(date) : Do print whatever you want logging to &3 file handler" >&3

I've initially found out about this very nice bash code from's post how can I fully log all bash script actions (but unfortunately on latest Debian 10 Buster Linux  that is prebundled with bash shell 5.0.3(1)-release the code doesn't behave exactly, well but still on older bash versions it works fine.

Sum it up

To shortlysummarize there is plenty of ways to do logging from a shell script logger command but using a function or a named pipe is the most classic. Sometimes if a script is supposed to write user or other script output to a a common file such as syslog, logger command can be used as it is present across most modern Linux distros.
If you have a better ways, please drop a common and I'll add it to this article.


Show directory structure bash script on Linux howto – See hierarchical directory tree structure one liner shell script

Friday, February 24th, 2017


If you have Sys Adminned Linux or *Nix OS like, whether for some shell scripting purpose or just for sake of keeping a backup you should have definitely come
into some need to list a tree of a directories content in a hierarchical order.

The most obvious way to do that on Linux is by simply using:

1.  "tree" command (not installed by default on most Linux distributions so in order to have it on Deb / Debian based Linux do:

# apt-get install –yes tree

On Fedora / CentOS Redhat Linux (RHEL) etc. install with:

# yum –yes install tree


By the way for those that needs tree on FreeBSD / BSD UNIX, tree is also available on that platform you can install it with:

pkg_add -vr tree

Then simply check man tree to get idea on how to use it, the easiest way to use the command tree once package is installed is to run tree inside directory of choice, i.e.


$ cd /somedir
$ tree -a

├── acpi
│   ├── events
│   │   └── powerbtn-acpi-support
│   └──
├── adduser.conf
├── adjtime
├── aliases
├── alternatives
│   ├── ABORT.7.gz -> /usr/share/postgresql/9.5/man/man7/ABORT.7.gz
│   ├── aclocal -> /usr/bin/aclocal-1.11
│   ├── aclocal.1.gz -> /usr/share/man/man1/aclocal-1.11.1.gz
│   ├── ALTER_AGGREGATE.7.gz -> /usr/share/postgresql/9.5/man/man7/ALTER_AGGREGATE.7.gz
│   ├── ALTER_COLLATION.7.gz -> /usr/share/postgresql/9.5/man/man7/ALTER_COLLATION.7.gz
│   ├── ALTER_CONVERSION.7.gz -> /usr/share/postgresql/9.5/man/man7/ALTER_CONVERSION.7.gz


To get a list of only directories with tree use:

$ tree -d /


  │   ├── bin
│   │   ├── boot
│   │   │   └── grub
│   │   │       └── locale
│   │   ├── disk
│   │   │   ├── Books
│   │   │   │   ├── 200 E-BOOKS
│   │   │   │   │   ├── McGraw-Hill – Windows Server 2003
│   │   │   │   │   ├── Oreilly.Access.Cookbook.2nd.Edition-LiB
│   │   │   │   │   ├── Oreilly.ActionScript.Cookbook.eBook-LiB
│   │   │   │   │   ├── OReilly.ActionScript.The.Definative.Guide.WinAll.Retail-EAT
│   │   │   │   │   ├── Oreilly.Active.Directory.2nd.Edition.eBook-LiB
│   │   │   │   │   ├── Oreilly.Active.Directory.Cookbook.eBook-LiB
│   │   │   │   │   ├── Oreilly.ADO.Dot.NET.Cookbook.eBook-LiB
│   │   │   │   │   ├── Oreilly.Amazon.Hacks.eBook-LiB
│   │   │   │   │   ├── Oreilly.Apache.Cookbook.eBook-LiB
│   │   │   │   │   ├── Oreilly.AppleScript.The.Definitive.Guide.eBook-LiB
│   │   │   │   │   ├── Oreilly.ASP.Dot.NET.In.A.Nutshell.2nd.Edition.eBook-LiB
│   │   │   │   │   ├── OReilly.Better.Faster.Lighter.Java.Jun.2004.eBook-DDU
│   │   │   │   │   ├── Oreilly.BLAST.eBook-LiB
│   │   │   │   │   ├── OReilly.BSD.Hacks.May.2004.eBook-DDU
│   │   │   │   │   ├── Oreilly.Building.Embedded.Linux.Systems.eBook-LiB

If you have a colorful terminal and you like colors for readability the -C option is quite handy


$ tree -C /



To list the directory tree with permissions included use tree cmd like so:


$ tree -L 2 -p /usr

├── [drwxr-xr-x]  bin
│   ├── [-rwxr-xr-x]  [
│   ├── [lrwxrwxrwx]  2to3 -> 2to3-2.6
│   ├── [-rwxr-xr-x]  2to3-2.6
│   ├── [-rwxr-xr-x]  411toppm
│   ├── [-rwxr-xr-x]  7z
│   ├── [-rwxr-xr-x]  7za
│   ├── [-rwxr-xr-x]  a2p
│   ├── [-rwxr-xr-x]  ab
│   ├── [-rwxr-xr-x]  ac
│   ├── [lrwxrwxrwx]  aclocal -> /etc/alternatives/aclocal
│   ├── [-rwxr-xr-x]  aclocal-1.11
│   ├── [-rwxr-xr-x]  acpi

Another truly handy option of tree is to list the directory structure index with included file sizes information


$ tree -L 2 -sh /bin

├── [903K]  bash
├── [147K]  bsd-csh
├── [ 30K]  bunzip2
├── [681K]  busybox
├── [ 30K]  bzcat
├── [   6]  bzcmp -> bzdiff
├── [2.1K]  bzdiff
├── [   6]  bzegrep -> bzgrep
├── [4.8K]  bzexe
├── [   6]  bzfgrep -> bzgrep
├── [3.6K]  bzgrep
├── [ 30K]  bzip2
├── [ 14K]  bzip2recover
├── [   6]  bzless -> bzmore
├── [1.3K]  bzmore
├── [ 51K]  cat
├── [ 59K]  chgrp
├── [ 55K]  chmod
├── [ 63K]  chown
├── [ 10K]  chvt
├── [127K]  cp
├── [134K]  cpio
├── [  21]  csh -> /etc/alternatives/csh
├── [104K]  dash

To list a directory tree of a search pattern, lets say all files with .conf extensions use:

$ tree -P *.conf

/etc/ca-certificates.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/dante.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/debconf.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/deluser.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/discover-modprobe.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/fuse.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/gai.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/gpm.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/gssapi_mech.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/hdparm.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/host.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/idmapd.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/inetd.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/insserv.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/irssi.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/kernel-img.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/ [error opening dir]
/etc/libao.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/libaudit.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/logrotate.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/memcached.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/mke2fs.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/mongodb.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/mtools.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/multitail.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/nsswitch.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/ntp.conf [error opening dir]
/etc/ocamlfind.conf [error opening dir]



tree -I option does exclude all petterns you don't want tree to list

Here are few other tree useful options:

  • tree -u /path/to/file – displays the users owning the files
  • tree -g /path/to/file – display the groups owning the files
  • tree -a /path/to/file – display the hidden files/folders
  • tree -d /path/to/file – display only the directories in the hierarchy

However there might be some cases where you have to support a Linux server or you just have to write a script for a non-root user and you might not have the permissins to install the tree command to make your life confortable. If that's the case then you can still use a couple of command line tools and tricks (assuming you have permissions) to list a log a directory / files and subdirectories tree structure in a hierarchical tree like command order

2. Print a list of all sub-directories and files within a directory tree

To print all directories within any path of choise on a server use

$ find /path/ -type d -print


To print all files within a root filesystem hierarchically with find command

Another way to do it in a more beautiful output is by using find in conjunction with awk

$ find . -type d -print 2>/dev/null|awk '!/\.$/ {for (i=1;i<NF;i++){d=length($i);if ( d < 5  && i != 1 )d=5;printf("%"d"s","|")}print "—"$NF}'  FS='/'


|          |—not-mine
|          |—various
|          |—output
|          |—examples
|          |—fun
|          |—educational
|          |—backdoor-cgi
|          |—fork-bombs
|          |—tmp
|          |    |—old
|          |—bullshits
|       |—ucspi-ssl-0.70.2
|       |               |—package
|       |               |—compile
|       |               |      |—rts-tmp
|       |               |—command
|       |               |—src
|      |—host
|      |    |—
|      |    |              |—command
|    |—tmpfs
|    |—disk
|    |—flash_drive
|    |—ramfs
|    |—cdrom

3. Get a list of the directories on filesystem structure with one-liner ls + sed script

$ ls -R | grep ":$" | sed -e 's/:$//' -e 's/[^-][^\/]*\//–/g' -e 's/^/ /' -e 's/-/|/'




4. Print all files within root filesystem and issue any command on each of the files

ls -R1 / |    while read l; do case $l in *:) d=${l%:};; "") d=;; *) echo "$d/$l";; esac; done

Above command just prints all the found files with full-path if you want to check the file size or file type you just check echo command with any command you need to execute on each of the listed file

5. Get a list hierarchical directory Linux tree with bash shell scripts: Assuming that the server where you need to have a list of the directory filesystem structure in a tree fashion has bash you could use this little script called to do the job or for a full filesystem hierarchical tree like directory structure use

How to find and kill Abusers on OpenVZ Linux hosted Virtual Machines (Few bash scripts to protect OpenVZ CentOS server from script kiddies and easify the daily admin job)

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

OpenVZ Logo - Anti Denial Of Service shell scripts

These days, I’m managing a number of OpenVZ Virtual Machine host servers. Therefore constantly I’m facing a lot of problems with users who run shit scripts inside their Linux Virtual Machines.

Commonly user Virtual Servers are used as a launchpad to attack hosts do illegal hacking activities or simply DDoS a host..
The virtual machines users (which by the way run on top of the CentOS OpenVZ Linux) are used to launch a Denial service scripts like, trinoo, shaft, tfn etc.

As a consequence of their malicious activities, oftenly the Data Centers which colocates the servers are either null routing our server IPs until we suspend the Abusive users, or the servers go simply down because of a server overload or a kernel bug hit as a result of the heavy TCP/IP network traffic or CPU/mem overhead.

Therefore to mitigate this abusive attacks, I’ve written few bash shell scripts which, saves us a lot of manual check ups and prevents in most cases abusers to run the common DoS and “hacking” script shits which are now in the wild.

The first script I’ve written is , what the script does is to automatically look up for a number of listed processes and kills them while logging in /var/log/abusers.log about the abusive VM user procs names killed.

I’ve set this script to run 4 times an hour and it currently saves us a lot of nerves and useless ticket communication with Data Centers (DCs), not to mention that reboot requests (about hanged up servers) has reduced significantly.
Therefore though the scripts simplicity it in general makes the servers run a way more stable than before.

Here is OpenVZ kill/suspend Abusers procs script ready for download

Another script which later on, I’ve written is doing something similar and still different, it does scan the server hard disk using locate and find commands and tries to identify users which has script kiddies programs in their Virtual machines and therefore are most probably crackers.
The scripts looks up for abusive network scanners, DoS scripts, metasploit framework, ircds etc.

After it registers through scanning the server hdd, it lists only files which are preliminary set in the script to be dangerous, and therefore there execution inside the user VM should not be. then logs in a files it’s activity as well as the OpenVZ virtual machines user IDs who owns hack related files. Right after it uses nail mailing command to send email to a specified admin email and reports the possible abusers whose VM accounts might need to either be deleted or suspended.

search_for_abusers can be download here

Honestly I truly liked my script as it became quite nice and I coded it quite quickly.
I’m intending now to put the Search for abusers script on a cronjob on the servers to check periodically and report the IDs of OpenVZ VM Users which are trying illegal activities on the servers.

I guess now our beloved Virtual Machine user script kiddies are in a real trouble ;P