Chapter 9. Debugging Shell Programs

We hope that we have convinced you that the Korn shell can be used as a serious Unix programming environment. It certainly has plenty of features, control structures, etc. But another essential part of a programming environment is a set of powerful, integrated support tools. For example, there is a wide assortment of screen editors, compilers, debuggers, profilers, cross-referencers, etc., for languages like C, C++ and Java. If you program in one of these languages, you probably take such tools for granted, and you would undoubtedly cringe at the thought of having to develop code with, say, the ed editor and the adb machine-language debugger.

But what about programming support tools for the Korn shell? Of course, you can use any editor you like, including vi and Emacs. And because the shell is an interpreted language, you don’t need a compiler.[113] But there are no other tools available. The most serious problem is the lack of a debugger.

This chapter addresses that lack. The shell does have a few features that help in debugging shell scripts; we’ll see these in the first part of the chapter. The Korn shell also has a couple of new features, not present in most Bourne shells, that make it possible to implement a full-blown debugging tool. We show these features; more importantly, we present kshdb, a Korn shell debugger that uses them. kshdb is basic yet quite usable, and its implementation serves as an extended example of various shell ...

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