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4.2. Variable Assignment


the assignment operator (no space before and after)

Do not confuse this with = and -eq, which test, rather than assign!

Note that = can be either an assignment or a test operator, depending on context.

Example 4-2. Plain Variable Assignment

# Naked variables


# When is a variable "naked", i.e., lacking the '$' in front?
# When it is being assigned, rather than referenced.

# Assignment
echo "The value of \"a\" is $a."

# Assignment using 'let'
let a=16+5
echo "The value of \"a\" is now $a."


# In a 'for' loop (really, a type of disguised assignment):
echo -n "Values of \"a\" in the loop are: "
for a in 7 8 9 11
  echo -n "$a "


# In a 'read' statement (also a type of assignment):
echo -n "Enter \"a\" "
read a
echo "The value of \"a\" is now $a."


exit 0

Example 4-3. Variable Assignment, plain and fancy


a=23              # Simple case
echo $a
echo $b

# Now, getting a little bit fancier (command substitution).

a=`echo Hello!`   # Assigns result of 'echo' command to 'a' ...
echo $a
#  Note that including an exclamation mark (!) within a
#+ command substitution construct will not work from the command-line,
#+ since this triggers the Bash "history mechanism."
#  Inside a script, however, the history functions are disabled.

a=`ls -l`         # Assigns result of 'ls -l' command to 'a'
echo $a           # Unquoted, however, it removes tabs and newlines.
echo "$a"         # The quoted variable preserves whitespace.
                  # (See the chapter on "Quoting.")

exit 0

Variable assignment using the $(...) mechanism (a newer method than backquotes). This is actually a form of command substitution.

# From /etc/rc.d/rc.local
R=$(cat /etc/redhat-release)
arch=$(uname -m)

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