I have the following script I wrote by searching Google, and it backs up my Linux system to an archive:

# init

DATE=$(date +20%y%m%d)

tar -cvpzf /share/Recovery/Snapshots/$HOSTNAME_$DATE.tar.gz --exclude=/proc --exclude=/lost+found --exclude=/sys --exclude=/mnt --exclude=/media --exclude=/dev --exclude=/share/Archive /

This works, but I am wondering if I can format the script to show the command over multiple lines, something like this, so it is easy to edit later:

tar -cvpzf /share/Recovery/Snapshots/$HOSTNAME_$DATE.tar.gz 

That way it is easier to read and edit later. Is it possible to format a Bash script this way?


All you should need to do is add "\" at the end of each line and it should be good to go.

So yours will look like:

tar -cvpzf /share/Recovery/Snapshots/$(hostname)_$(date +%Y%m%d).tar.gz \
    --exclude=/proc \
    --exclude=/lost+found \
    --exclude=/sys \
    --exclude=/mnt \
    --exclude=/media \ 
    --exclude=/dev \
    --exclude=/share/Archive \

A Few Shortcuts

(based on your comment update for setting $HOSTNAME)


Two options to set that:



  2. Use command substitution (e.g. $(command))

    So it would look like above. That just makes the command run before using it.


Another variable avoided would be easily:

$(hostname)_$(date +%Y%m%d).tar.gz \

$ man date will have the formats for the date options, the above is YYYYmmdd

  • Thanks guys. One last thing. There seems to be a problem with the file name portion of my script: $HOSTNAME_$DATE.tar.gz When I run the script now, the output file is: 20121120.tar.gz – Jay LaCroix Nov 21 '12 at 3:26
  • If you want your actual "hostname" put it in back ticks (the tilde "~" key above tab): /share/Recovery/Snapshots/`hostname`_$DATE.tar.gz – nerdwaller Nov 21 '12 at 3:36
  • Anytime @JayLaCroix - Welcome to SU! – nerdwaller Nov 21 '12 at 3:40
  • 1
    It is recommended to use $(command) instead of `command`. – andrybak Jan 25 '15 at 10:46

Use the backslash to continue a command on the next line:

tar -cvpzf /share/Recovery/Snapshots/$HOSTNAME_$DATE.tar.gz \
--exclude=/proc \
--exclude=/lost+found \
--exclude=/sys  \
--exclude=/mnt  \
--exclude=/media  \
--exclude=/dev \
--exclude=/share/Archive \
  • Dang it @Paul! Just beat me :D – nerdwaller Nov 21 '12 at 3:17
  • @nerdwaller Heh, I thought yours got in first! – Paul Nov 21 '12 at 3:23
  • I went back to update it to make it more useful and get the indentations. I love SU though, by and large. – nerdwaller Nov 21 '12 at 3:35
  • This doesn't work for me like eg. in alias ub='source ~/.bash_aliases \ && source $HOME/.bash_aliases \ && echo "aliases updated."'; – TheDefinitionist Oct 5 '16 at 17:12
  • 1
    @TheDefinitionist Sounds like a different problem to this one. Perhaps open a new question? – Paul Oct 6 '16 at 2:58

The same command, but with comments for each line, would be:

tar -cvpzf /share/Recovery/Snapshots/$(hostname)_$(date +%Y%m%d).tar.gz `#first comment` \
    --exclude=/proc `#second comment` \
    --exclude=/lost+found `# and so on...` \
    --exclude=/sys \
    --exclude=/mnt \
    --exclude=/media \ 
    --exclude=/dev \
    --exclude=/share/Archive \

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