What Is POSIX Scripting?


Angela Bailey

What Is POSIX Scripting?

POSIX scripting refers to the use of scripting languages that adhere to the Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX) standard. The POSIX standard defines a set of APIs, utilities, and shell interfaces that aim to provide compatibility across different operating systems, primarily Unix-like systems.

Why Use POSIX Scripting?

Using POSIX scripting has several advantages. Firstly, it allows developers to write scripts that can run on multiple platforms without significant modifications.

This portability is especially useful in environments where different operating systems are used or when scripts need to be shared between different teams or organizations.

Additionally, POSIX scripting provides a standardized set of tools and utilities that are available across various platforms. These tools include common commands such as grep, sed, awk, and many others.

By utilizing these tools, developers can leverage their powerful functionalities for text processing, pattern matching, and data manipulation.

Basic Elements of POSIX Scripting

Shell Scripts

At the core of POSIX scripting are shell scripts. Shell scripts are plain text files containing a series of commands that are executed by a shell interpreter.

The shell interpreter reads each line from the script file and executes the corresponding command.

Shell scripts typically start with a shebang line that specifies the path to the shell interpreter to be used. For example:


The above shebang line indicates that the Bourne shell (sh) should be used as the interpreter for executing the script.

Variables and Environment Variables

POSIX scripting allows you to define variables within your script to store data and perform calculations or manipulate values. Variables are assigned using the equal sign (=) without any spaces. For example:

name="John Doe"

Environment variables, on the other hand, are predefined variables that exist in the shell’s environment. They hold information about the system and can be accessed by scripts.

Environment variables are typically written in uppercase letters. For example:


Control Structures

POSIX scripting provides various control structures for flow control in scripts. These include if-else statements, loops, and case statements.

The if-else statement allows you to conditionally execute a block of code based on a condition. For example:

if [ $age -lt 18 ]; then
    echo "You are not eligible to vote."
    echo "You can vote."

Loops, such as the while loop and for loop, enable repetitive execution of a block of code until a certain condition is met. Here’s an example of a while loop:


while [ $counter -lt 5 ]; do
    echo "Counter: $counter"
    counter=$((counter + 1))

The case statement allows you to perform different actions based on the value of a variable or an expression. Here’s an example:


case $fruit in
        echo "It's an apple." ;;
        echo "It's a banana." 

        echo "Unknown fruit." esac

Command Substitution and Redirection

POSIX scripting supports command substitution, which allows you to use the output of a command as part of another command or assign it to a variable. Command substitution is done using the backtick (`) or the $(..) syntax.

current_date=$(date +%Y-%m-%d)
echo "Current date: $current_date"

Redirection is another important feature in POSIX scripting. It allows you to redirect input and output streams between commands and files.

The common redirection operators are >, >>, <, and |. For example:

ls > file.txt  # Redirects the output of ls command to file.txt
cat < file.txt  # Reads the contents of file.txt and passes it to cat command
command1 | command2  # Passes the output of command1 as input to command2


POSIX scripting provides a standardized approach for writing scripts that can run across different operating systems. By adhering to the POSIX standard, developers can ensure portability and compatibility while benefiting from a rich set of tools and utilities.

With an understanding of basic elements such as shell scripts, variables, control structures, command substitution, and redirection, you can start writing powerful POSIX scripts for various tasks.

Discord Server - Web Server - Private Server - DNS Server - Object-Oriented Programming - Scripting - Data Types - Data Structures

Privacy Policy