What does `set -x` do?


I have a shell script with the following line in it:

[ "$DEBUG" == 'true' ] && set -x

This question is tagged with linux bash unix scripting

~ Asked on 2016-03-29 00:58:08

The Best Answer is


set -x enables a mode of the shell where all executed commands are printed to the terminal. In your case it's clearly used for debugging, which is a typical use case for set -x: printing every command as it is executed may help you to visualize the control flow of the script if it is not functioning as expected.

set +x disables it.

~ Answered on 2016-03-29 01:07:25


set -x

Prints a trace of simple commands, for commands, case commands, select commands, and arithmetic for commands and their arguments or associated word lists after they are expanded and before they are executed. The value of the PS4 variable is expanded and the resultant value is printed before the command and its expanded arguments.



set -x
echo `expr 10 + 20 `
+ expr 10 + 20
+ echo 30

set +x
echo `expr 10 + 20 `

Above example illustrates the usage of set -x. When it is used, above arithmetic expression has been expanded. We could see how a singe line has been evaluated step by step.

  • First step expr has been evaluated.
  • Second step echo has been evaluated.

To know more about set ? visit this link

when it comes to your shell script,

[ "$DEBUG" == 'true' ] && set -x

Your script might have been printing some additional lines of information when the execution mode selected as DEBUG. Traditionally people used to enable debug mode when a script called with optional argument such as -d

~ Answered on 2016-03-29 07:08:54

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