ShellCheck: Code Check For Shell Scripts


Shell scripting is a must-have skill for DevOps. I used to be very very confident at Shell. But when I first tried ShellCheck , I realized that I’m just too proud and arrogant.
ShellCheck is a powerful code analysis tool for shell scripts. Like Pylint for Python or Rubocop for Ruby. Give it a try! You’ll get surprised.


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ShellCheck helps to identify a lot of potential issues in your shell scripts. For example, here is one common mistake which ShellCheck reminds me. Mostly original code will work. However if we feed $dir with value like “Denny Documents”, it hurts. Sometime the bad code may incur very severe damage!

# Before:
rm -rf $dir
# After:
rm -rf "$dir"

More Bad Code Examples:

ShellCheck is very easy to install and use. It is built and packaged using Cabal. We can install by apt-get/yum. Or use cabal-install directly like below.

# Install ShellCheck
sudo apt-get install -y cabal-install
sudo cabal update
sudo cabal install shellcheck
ln -s /root/.cabal/bin/shellcheck /usr/sbin/shellcheck

# Example: Run check for Shell scripts
sudo shellcheck

By default, ShellCheck enforces hundreds of rules. Each rule has a dedicated wiki page, which explains the purpose and improvement suggestion clearly. For example, wiki for Rule SC1000: https://github…shellcheck/wiki/SC1000. I’m sure you can easily guess the wiki link of other rules.

Skip some ShellCheck rules, which don’t fit your projects. For your reference, here are rules I used to skip.

# Run test excluding certain rules
sudo shellcheck -e $EXCLUDE_CODE_LIST $file

# Run test against all scripts under a folder
find . -name "*.sh" | xargs sudo 
    shellcheck -e $EXCLUDE_CODE_LIST $file

Enforce Daily Shell Code Check by Jenkins. Enforce code quality check in your daily CI definitely helps.


More Reading: Avoid Blind Wait In DevOps Code

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