Differences Between Shell And Exec
and passes it a single command line. /bin/sh
parses this command line exactly the same way you do on a normal shell. So,
SHELL "ls -l *.o >/tmp/list"
will do exactly the same as you typed "ls -l *.o >/tmp/list
" in a
terminal emulator under a shell. This is a lot of things, because the
shell has a tremendous power. This command does:
- Split the command line in several parts: executable to run, parameters to pass it, other constructs...
- Search for an executable named ls in the PATH environment.
- Substitute "*.o" with all the ".o" files in the current directory.
- Prepare a redirection (the normal output of /bin/ls is redirected in /tmp/list).
To make it short, the shell can do a lot of things, and the Gambas
command brings that power to you.
has done with all this parsing/computing work, it invokes
system call, which loads and executes an executable, passing
it a number of parameters.
The Gambas EXEC
instruction calls the exec()
system call, bypassing the
). This is faster and less memory hungry, because you
invoke an external command without invoking /bin/sh
, but you loose all
the power the shell has.
In fact, if you want to list all the ".o
in the current directory and put the result in /tmp/list
the powerful shell, you have to:
- Search by yourself the files.
- Create an array of the names of those files.
- Invoke /bin/ls and pass it an array which contains the "-l" and all the filenames you found.
- Redirect its standard output in a file, or use the FOR READ syntax to get the output directly in a Gambas event handler.
To conclude. If you run an EXEC in gambas, you must simply supply the
program name to execute and all its parameter. If you issue:
EXEC ["/bin/ls", "-l", "*.o", ">/tmp/list"]
you will invoke /bin/ls
passing it the above parameters. /bin/ls
(correctly) recognize the "-l
" as a switch; but "*.o
" and ">/tmp/list
will be recognized as files to look for, and no files named "*.o
exist. The ">/tmp/list
" is a shell syntax, not a /bin/ls
will look again to for file named ">/tmp/list
You can type "man sh
" at the shell prompt; all of what you will read
there are shell capabilities, and none of them are available in EXEC.
The three most important things which are available in the shell, and
not available in EXEC are:
- Pattern substitution. *.o and the like are shell construct.
- Redirections and pipes. ">/foo/bar", "</foo/bar", "2>&1 | command" and so on.
- Variables like $HOME, $PATH and so on.
But EXEC has a good advantage over SHELL
. If you have to invoke an
external command which has (or can have) unusual characters in the
command line, like
SHELL (or, better, /bin/sh
) will interpret characters like "?
" and "&
", while EXEC will not.
So, if you need some shell capability, use
SHELL; otherwise use EXEC. Using SHELL saves typing, on the other hand,
if you are sure that no strange characters ("?", "&", "$", spaces, and
others) can appear in the command you are constructing.
In that last case, Gambas has a Quote.Shell
that quotes these "strange" characters for the SHELL instruction, so that you are sure
that any file name can be used with it. That method has been replaced by the Shell$
function in Gambas 3.