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16.3 test: Check file types and compare values

test returns a status of 0 (true) or 1 (false) depending on the evaluation of the conditional expression expr. Each part of the expression must be a separate argument.

test has file status checks, string operators, and numeric comparison operators.

test has an alternate form that uses opening and closing square brackets instead a leading ‘test’. For example, instead of ‘test -d /’, you can write ‘[ -d / ]’. The square brackets must be separate arguments; for example, ‘[-d /]’ does not have the desired effect. Since ‘test expr’ and ‘[ expr ]’ have the same meaning, only the former form is discussed below.

Synopses:

 
test expression
test
[ expression ]
[ ]
[ option

Because most shells have a built-in test command, using an unadorned test in a script or interactively may get you different functionality than that described here.

If expression is omitted, test returns false. If expression is a single argument, test returns false if the argument is null and true otherwise. The argument can be any string, including strings like ‘-d’, ‘-1’, ‘--’, ‘--help’, and ‘--version’ that most other programs would treat as options. To get help and version information, invoke the commands ‘[ --help’ and ‘[ --version’, without the usual closing brackets. See section Common options.

Exit status:

 
0 if the expression is true,
1 if the expression is false,
2 if an error occurred.

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