The eval command is used to execute arguments as a single command in the current shell and return the result of the command. It is a built-in shell command available in many Unix-like operating systems.
Here are some important details and features of eval:
- Command execution: eval allows you to execute a command or a series of commands that are provided as arguments. The arguments are treated as a single command, and the shell evaluates and executes them in the current shell environment.
- Shell expansion: Before executing the command, the arguments passed to eval undergo shell expansion. This means that variables, wildcards, and other special characters are expanded and processed by the shell as they would be in a regular command line.
- Command substitution: eval supports command substitution, which allows the output of a command to be substituted as part of the command itself. This enables dynamic generation of command arguments and facilitates complex command composition.
- Shell environment: When eval is used, the command and its arguments are executed within the same shell environment. This means that any changes made to the shell environment, such as variable assignments or changes to the current directory, persist after the execution of the command.
- Return value: The result of the evaluated command is returned as the exit status of the eval command itself. If the command execution is successful, the exit status will be zero. Otherwise, it will indicate an error or the exit status of the executed command.
- Scripting and automation: eval is particularly useful in shell scripting and automation tasks where you need to dynamically construct and execute commands. It allows you to generate and execute commands based on runtime conditions or variables.
- Caution: While eval can be powerful and flexible, it should be used with caution as it can introduce security risks if used with untrusted or unsanitized input. Care must be taken to validate and sanitize any user-provided input that is passed to eval to prevent potential command injection vulnerabilities.
eval Command Examples
1. Call echo with the “foo” argument:
# eval "echo foo"
2. Set a variable in the current shell:
# eval "foo=bar"
Overall, eval provides a way to execute arguments as a single command in the current shell environment. It facilitates dynamic command execution and is commonly used in shell scripting, automation, and situations where you need to construct and execute commands on the fly.