- Kali Linux Tutorial
- Kali Linux - Home
- Installation & Configuration
- Information Gathering Tools
- Vulnerability Analyses Tools
- Kali Linux - Wireless Attacks
- Website Penetration Testing
- Kali Linux - Exploitation Tools
- Kali Linux - Forensics Tools
- Kali Linux - Social Engineering
- Kali Linux - Stressing Tools
- Kali Linux - Sniffing & Spoofing
- Kali Linux - Password Cracking Tools
- Kali Linux - Maintaining Access
- Kali Linux - Reverse Engineering
- Kali Linux - Reporting Tools
- Kali Linux Useful Resources
- Kali Linux - Quick Guide
- Kali Linux - Useful Resources
- Kali Linux - Discussion
What Does a Double-Dash in Shell Commands Mean
If you are familiar with command line interface, you have probably encountered a double-dash (--) in some of commands you use. This article seeks to explain what double-dash means and how it affects behavior of shell commands.
What is a Double-Dash in Shell Commands?
A double-dash is a syntax used in shell commands to signify end of command options and beginning of positional arguments. In other words, it separates command options from arguments that command operates on.
Many shell commands allow you to specify options or flags that modify behavior of command. For example, ls command allows you to specify options such as -l to display files in long format or -a to show hidden files. When you use these options, command will interpret them and modify its behavior accordingly.
However, there are instances where options themselves can conflict with arguments you want to pass to command. For example, suppose you want to create a file with name "-l". If you were to run touch command with argument "-l", command would interpret it as an option to show file details in long format, rather than a file name.
This is where double-dash comes in. By adding a double-dash before your arguments, you can ensure that they are interpreted as positional arguments rather than options.
Examples of Double-Dash in Shell Commands
To better understand how double-dash works, let us look at some examples of its usage in different commands.
The ls command is used to list contents of a directory. By default, it lists only names of files and directories, but you can specify options to modify its behavior.
For example, suppose you have a directory named "my_folder" containing two files, "file1.txt" and "file2.txt". To list files in long format and show hidden files, you would use following command −
ls -al my_folder
The output would be as follows −
-rw-r--r-- 1 user user 0 Jun 20 10:44 .hidden_file -rw-r--r-- 1 user user 0 Jun 20 10:43 file1.txt -rw-r--r-- 1 user user 0 Jun 20 10:43 file2.txt
Now suppose you want to create a file with name "-l" in same directory. If you were to use following command −
touch -l my_folder
The touch command would interpret "-l" as an option to modify its behavior, rather than a file name. To avoid this, you can use double-dash as follows −
touch -- -l my_folder
This tells touch command that "-l" is a positional argument rather than an option.
Git is a version control system that is commonly used in software development. It has many commands and options that allow you to manage your codebase.
One of most commonly used git commands is "git checkout", which allows you to switch between branches or restore files to a previous version.
Suppose you have a git repository with two branches, "main" and "feature". To switch to "feature" branch, you would use following command −
git checkout feature
This would switch your working directory to "feature" branch.
Now suppose you want to create a branch with name "-f". If you were to use following command −
git branch -f
The git branch command would interpret "-f" as an option to force creation of a new branch, rather than a branch name. To avoid this, you can use double-dash as follows −
git branch -- -f
This tells git that "-f" is a positional argument rather than an option.
ffmpeg is a powerful tool for manipulating and converting audio and video files. It has many options that allow you to modify output format and quality of files.
Suppose you have a video file named "input.mp4" that you want to convert to an audio file in MP3 format. To do this, you would use following command −
ffmpeg -i input.mp4 output.mp3
This would convert input video file to an MP3 audio file named "output.mp3".
Now suppose you want to convert a video file with name "-i". If you were to use following command −
ffmpeg -i -i.mp4 output.mp3
The ffmpeg command would interpret "-i" as an option to specify input file, rather than a file name. To avoid this, you can use double-dash as follows −
ffmpeg -- -i.mp4 output.mp3
This tells ffmpeg that "-i.mp4" is a positional argument rather than an option.
Why Use Double-Dash in Shell Commands?
As we saw in examples above, using a double-dash in shell commands is important to avoid conflicts between command options and positional arguments. Without it, command may interpret an argument as an option and modify its behavior in unintended ways.
In addition, using a double-dash can improve readability and maintainability of your command line code. By clearly separating options from arguments, it makes it easier for other users to understand what your command is doing and to modify it if necessary.
Using Double-Dash in Complex Commands
In some cases, you may need to use multiple options and positional arguments in a single command. In such cases, you can use multiple double-dashes to separate different groups of arguments.
For example, suppose you have a script that accepts multiple options and arguments to perform a complex operation. You could use following syntax to clearly separate different groups of arguments −
./script --option1 --option2 -- --arg1 arg2 arg3
In this case, double-dash after options signals end of option group, and subsequent double-dash separates positional arguments from options.
In summary, a double-dash is a syntax used in shell commands to signify end of command options and beginning of positional arguments. It ensures that arguments are interpreted as positional rather than as options. examples provided in this article show how double-dash is used in different commands to avoid conflicts between options and arguments. Understanding how double-dash works is important for anyone who works with command line interfaces.
- Related Articles
- What are Shell Commands?
- What does the Double Star operator mean in Python?
- What does double question mark (??) operator mean in PHP ?
- What does “?:” mean in a Python regular expression?
- What does psychology mean?
- What does geometry mean?
- What does humus mean?
- Read the Source Code of Shell Commands on Linux
- What does createdCollectionAutomatically mean in MongoDB?
- What does # mean in Lua programming?
- What does operator ~= mean in Lua?
- What does series mean in pandas?
- What does "return@" mean in Kotlin?
- What does opt mean in Linux
- What does NFT mean in Blockchain?