How to save & restore all shell options including errexit

I have read through many questions on various stack exchange sites and unix help forums on how to modify shell options and then restore them –
the most comprehensive one I found on here is at How to "undo" a `set -x`?

The received wisdom seems to be to either save off the result of set +o or shopt -po and then eval it later to restore the previous settings.

However, in my own testing with bash 3.x and 4.x, the errexit option does not get saved correctly when doing command substitution.

Here is an example script to show the issue:

set -o errexit
set -o nounset
set +o
OLDOPTS=$(set +o)
echo "$OLDOPTS"

And output (I trimmed out some of the irrelevant variables):

set -o errexit
set -o nounset

set +o errexit
set -o nounset

This seems extremely dangerous. Most scripts I write depend on errexit to halt execution if any commands fail. I just located a bug in one of my scripts caused by this, where the function that was supposed to restore errexit at the end wound up overriding it, setting it back to the default of off for the duration of the script.

What I’d like to be able to do is write functions that can set options as needed and then restore all the options properly before exiting. But it seems as if in the subshell invoked by the command substitution, errexit is not inherited.

I’m at a loss for how to save off the result of set +o without using command substitution or jumping through FIFO hoops. I can read from $SHELLOPTS but it is not writable or in eval-able format.

I know one alternative is to use a subshell function, but that introduces a lot of headaches for being able to log output as well as pass back multiple variables.

Probably related: (seems there is a workaround for bash 4.4 and up but I’d rather have a portable solution)

Asked By: Eliot


What you’re doing should work. But bash turns off the errexit option in command substitutions, so it preserves all the options except this one. This is specific to bash and specific to the errexit option. Bash does preserve errexit when running in POSIX mode. Since bash 4.4, bash also doesn’t clear errexit in a command substitution if shopt -s inherit_errexit is in effect.

Since the option is turned off before any code runs inside the command substitution, you have to check it outside.

OLDOPTS=$(set +o)
case $- in
  *e*) OLDOPTS="$OLDOPTS; set -e";;
  *) OLDOPTS="$OLDOPTS; set +e";;

If you don’t like this complexity, use zsh instead.

setopt local_options

errexit is propagated into process substitutions.

set -e

# Backup restore commands into an array
declare -a OPTS
readarray -t OPTS < <(shopt -po)

set +e

# Restore options
declare cmd
for cmd in "${OPTS[@]}"; do
    eval "$cmd"


$  shopt -po errexit
set -o errexit

Bash version:

$ bash --version
GNU bash, version 4.2.46(2)-release (x86_64-redhat-linux-gnu)
Answered By: Sergej Alikov

After trying old of the above on alpine 3.6, I’ve now taken the following much simpler approach:

OLDOPTS="$(set +o); set -${-//c}"
set -euf -o pipefail

... my stuff

# restore original options
set +vx; eval "${OLDOPTS}"

as per documentation, “$-” holds the list of currently active options. Seems to work great, am I missing anything?

Answered By: Erich Eichinger

The simple solution is to append the errexit setting to OLDOPTS:

OLDOPTS="$(set +o)"
[ "${BASH_VERSION:+x}" ] && shopt -qo errexit && OLDOPTS+=";set -e" || true


Answered By: user232326
Categories: Answers Tags: ,
Answers are sorted by their score. The answer accepted by the question owner as the best is marked with
at the top-right corner.