Which shell executes scripts when there's no shebang line (#!/path/to/shell) at the beginning? I assume /bin/sh but I can't confirm.
The kernel refuses to execute such scripts and returns ENOEXEC, so the exact behavior depends on the program you run such a script from.
- bash 4.2.39 – uses itself
- busybox-ash 1.20.2 – uses itself
- dash 0.5.7 – runs /bin/sh
- fish 1.23.1 – complains about ENOEXEC, then blames the wrong file
- AT&T ksh 93u+2012.08.01 – uses itself
- mksh R40f – runs /bin/sh
- pdksh 5.2.14 – runs /bin/sh
- sh-heirloom 050706 – uses itself
- tcsh 6.18.01 – runs /bin/sh
- zsh 5.0.0 – runs /bin/sh
- cmd.exe 5.1.2600 – looks at you funny.
In glibc, functions
execve() just return ENOEXEC. But
execvp() hides this error code and automatically invokes /bin/sh. (This is documented in exec(3p).)
What is considered "best practices" in terms of writing shell scripts that will run on any platform? (ok, this is sort of open-ended)
Either stick to
sh and only POSIX-defined features, or just go full bash (which is widely available) and mention it in your requirements if distributing it.
(Now that I think of it, Perl – or perhaps Python – would be even more portable, not to mention having a better syntax.)
Always add the shebang line. If using bash or zsh, use
#!/usr/bin/env bash instead of hardcoding the shell's path. (However, the POSIX shell is guaranteed to be at
/bin/sh, so skip
env in that case.)
/bin/sh is not always the same. The GNU autoconf program has to deal with many different quirks.)
Is it possible to write a script that tries to use zsh and falls back to bash if zsh is not available? I've tried putting two shebang lines, like below, but it just errors with bad interpreter: /bin/zsh: no such file or directory out if I try it on a machine without zsh.
There can only be one shebang line; everything after the newline character isn't even read by the kernel, and treated as a comment by shells.
It's possible to write a script that runs as
#!/bin/sh, checks which shell is available, and runs
exec zsh "$0" "$@" or
exec bash "$0" "$@" depending on the result. However, the syntax used by bash and zsh is so different in various places that I would not recommend doing this for your own sanity.