I have a misbehaving program that I need to call from my script. It exits as soon as it sees something on stdin. Is there a way to close stdin?

5 Answers 5


Is there a way to close stdin?

Closing File Descriptors

  • n<&- Close input file descriptor n.

  • 0<&- or <&- Close stdin.

Source Chapter 20. I/O Redirection

  • How to do it programmatically? What ASCII codes I must send to stdin to close it? Feb 24 at 12:59

Just pipe in a program with no output:

: | misbehaving_program
  • Wow, what is this? What does ':' do? May 24, 2019 at 5:47
  • 1
    ":" is an internal command of the shell that does nothing. It lets you introduce comments, or can be used for redirections. For example ": > file" creates an empty file. Or ": |" in this case feeds an empty stream to the command. May 24, 2019 at 7:16

Found it, you can close stdin with:

exec 0<&-

According to what you say, you might fix your problem by simply

pickyProgram < /dev/null

I found myself struggling with the same problem. My solution is derived from the suggestions here, but differ in that instead of closing stdin with exec 0<&- which allows for subshells to continuously use stdin. An example program that you would expect to exit but does not would look like:

exec 0<&-
$(read stdin)

This is because read is spawned inside a subshell inheriting stdin from the parent. If we instead redirect the stdin we get the expected behaviour

exec 0</dev/null
$(read stdin)

This will yield an exit code 1.

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