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exec(3,n,1 builtins)(n)                      Tcl Built-In Commands                     exec(3,n,1 builtins)(n)



NAME
       exec(3,n,1 builtins) - Invoke subprocess(es)

SYNOPSIS
       exec(3,n,1 builtins) ?switches? arg ?arg ...?


DESCRIPTION
       This  command  treats its arguments as the specification of one or more
       subprocesses to execute.  The arguments take the  form  of  a  standard
       shell  pipeline  where each arg becomes one word of a command, and each
       distinct command becomes a subprocess.

       If the initial arguments to exec(3,n,1 builtins) start with - then they are treated  as
       command-line  switches  and are not part of the pipeline specification.
       The following switches are currently supported:

       -keepnewline Retains a trailing newline in(1,8) the pipeline's output.  Nor-
                    mally a trailing newline will be deleted.

       --           Marks  the  end  of switches.  The argument following this
                    one will be treated as the first arg  even  if(3,n)  it  starts
                    with a -.

       If  an arg (or pair of arg's) has one of the forms described below then
       it is used by exec(3,n,1 builtins) to control the flow of input and  output  among  the
       subprocess(es).   Such  arguments  will  not  be  passed to the subpro-
       cess(es).  In forms such as ``< fileName'' fileName may either be in(1,8)  a
       separate  argument from ``<'' or in(1,8) the same argument with no interven-
       ing space (i.e. ``<fileName'').

       |              Separates distinct commands in(1,8) the pipeline.  The  stan-
                      dard  output of the preceding command will be piped into
                      the standard input of the next command.

       |&             Separates distinct commands in(1,8) the pipeline.  Both stan-
                      dard  output and standard error(8,n) of the preceding command
                      will be piped into the standard input of the  next  com-
                      mand.   This form of redirection overrides forms such as
                      2> and >&.

       < fileName     The file(1,n) named(5,8) by fileName is opened  and  used  as  the
                      standard input for the first command in(1,8) the pipeline.

       <@ fileId      FileId  must be the identifier for an open(2,3,n) file(1,n), such as
                      the return value from a previous call to  open(2,3,n).   It  is
                      used  as the standard input for the first command in(1,8) the
                      pipeline.  FileId must have been opened for reading.

       << value       Value is passed to the first  command  as  its  standard
                      input.

       > fileName     Standard  output  from the last command is redirected to
                      the file(1,n) named(5,8) fileName, overwriting its  previous  con-
                      tents.

       2> fileName    Standard  error(8,n)  from  all  commands  in(1,8) the pipeline is
                      redirected to the file(1,n) named(5,8) fileName,  overwriting  its
                      previous contents.

       >& fileName    Both  standard output from the last command and standard
                      error(8,n) from all commands are redirected to the file(1,n) named(5,8)
                      fileName, overwriting its previous contents.

       >> fileName    Standard  output  from the last command is redirected to
                      the file(1,n) named(5,8) fileName, appending  to  it  rather  than
                      overwriting it.

       2>> fileName   Standard  error(8,n)  from  all  commands  in(1,8) the pipeline is
                      redirected to the file(1,n) named(5,8) fileName, appending  to  it
                      rather than overwriting it.

       >>& fileName   Both  standard output from the last command and standard
                      error(8,n) from all commands are redirected to the file(1,n) named(5,8)
                      fileName, appending to it rather than overwriting it.

       >@ fileId      FileId  must be the identifier for an open(2,3,n) file(1,n), such as
                      the return value from a previous call to open(2,3,n).  Standard
                      output  from  the last command is redirected to fileId's
                      file(1,n), which must have been opened for writing.

       2>@ fileId     FileId must be the identifier for an open(2,3,n) file(1,n), such  as
                      the return value from a previous call to open(2,3,n).  Standard
                      error(8,n) from all commands in(1,8) the pipeline is redirected to
                      fileId's file.  The file(1,n) must have been opened for writ-
                      ing.

       >&@ fileId     FileId must be the identifier for an open(2,3,n) file(1,n), such  as
                      the  return  value  from  a previous call to open(2,3,n).  Both
                      standard output from the last command and standard error(8,n)
                      from  all commands are redirected to fileId's file.  The
                      file(1,n) must have been opened for writing.

       If standard output has  not  been  redirected  then  the  exec(3,n,1 builtins)  command
       returns  the standard output from the last command in(1,8) the pipeline.  If
       any of the commands in(1,8) the pipeline exit(3,n,1 builtins) abnormally or  are  killed  or
       suspended,  then  exec(3,n,1 builtins)  will return an error(8,n) and the error(8,n) message will
       include the pipeline's output followed by error(8,n) messages describing the
       abnormal  terminations;  the errorCode variable will contain additional
       information about the last abnormal termination encountered.  If any of
       the  commands writes to its standard error(8,n) file(1,n) and that standard error(8,n)
       isn't redirected, then exec(3,n,1 builtins) will return an error(8,n);   the  error(8,n)  message
       will include the pipeline's standard output, followed by messages about
       abnormal terminations (if(3,n) any), followed by the standard error(8,n)  output.

       If  the last character of the result or error(8,n) message is a newline then
       that character is normally deleted from the result  or  error(8,n)  message.
       This  is  consistent with other Tcl return values, which don't normally
       end with newlines.  However, if(3,n)  -keepnewline  is  specified  then  the
       trailing newline is retained.

       If  standard input isn't redirected with ``<'' or ``<<'' or ``<@'' then
       the standard input for the first command in(1,8) the pipeline is taken  from
       the application's current standard input.

       If  the  last  arg is ``&'' then the pipeline will be executed in(1,8) back-
       ground.  In this case the exec(3,n,1 builtins) command will return a  list  whose  ele-
       ments  are  the  process identifiers for all of the subprocesses in(1,8) the
       pipeline.  The standard output from the last command  in(1,8)  the  pipeline
       will  go  to  the application's standard output if(3,n) it hasn't been redi-
       rected, and error(8,n) output from all of the commands in(1,8) the pipeline  will
       go to the application's standard error(8,n) file(1,n) unless redirected.

       The first word in(1,8) each command is taken as the command name; tilde-sub-
       stitution is performed on it, and if(3,n) the  result  contains  no  slashes
       then  the directories in(1,8) the PATH environment variable are searched for
       an executable by the given name.  If the name contains a slash then  it
       must  refer  to an executable reachable from the current directory.  No
       ``glob(1,3,7,n)'' expansion or other shell-like substitutions are  performed  on
       the arguments to commands.


PORTABILITY ISSUES
       Windows (all versions)
              Reading  from  or  writing  to  a socket(2,7,n), using the ``@ fileId''
              notation, does not work.  When reading from a socket(2,7,n),  a  16-bit
              DOS  application  will hang and a 32-bit application will return
              immediately with end-of-file.  When either type  of  application
              writes  to a socket(2,7,n), the information is instead sent to the con-
              sole(4,n), if(3,n) one is present, or is discarded.

              The Tk console(4,n) text widget does not  provide  real  standard  IO
              capabilities.   Under  Tk, when redirecting from standard input,
              all applications will see an immediate end-of-file;  information
              redirected  to  standard  output  or standard error(8,n) will be dis-
              carded.

              Either forward or backward slashes are accepted as path  separa-
              tors  for arguments to Tcl commands.  When executing an applica-
              tion, the path name specified for the application may also  con-
              tain  forward  or  backward slashes as path separators.  Bear in(1,8)
              mind, however, that most Windows applications  accept(2,8)  arguments
              with  forward  slashes only as option delimiters and backslashes
              only in(1,8) paths.  Any arguments to an application that  specify  a
              path  name  with  forward slashes will not automatically be con-
              verted to use the backslash character.  If an argument  contains
              forward slashes as the path separator, it may or may not be rec-
              ognized as a path name, depending on the program.

              Additionally, when calling a 16-bit DOS or Windows 3.X  applica-
              tion,  all  path  names must use the short, cryptic, path format
              (e.g.,   using   ``applba~1.def''    instead    of    ``applbak-
              ery.default''),  which  can be obtained with the file(1,n) attributes
              $fileName -shortname command.

              Two or more forward or backward slashes in(1,8) a row in(1,8) a path refer
              to  a  network path.  For example, a simple concatenation of the
              root directory c:/  with  a  subdirectory  /windows/system  will
              yield c://windows/system (two slashes together), which refers to
              the mount(2,8) point called system on the machine called windows (and
              the c:/ is ignored), and is not equivalent to c:/windows/system,
              which describes a directory on the current computer.   The  file(1,n)
              join(1,n) command should be used to concatenate path components.

              Note  that there are two general types of Win32 console(4,n) applica-
              tions:
                     1) CLI -- CommandLine Interface, simple  stdio  exchange.
                     netstat.exe for example.
                     2)  TUI  -- Textmode User Interface, any application that
                     accesses the console(4,n) API for doing such things as  cursor
                     movement,  setting  text color, detecting key presses and
                     mouse movement, etc...  An example  would  be  telnet.exe
                     from  Windows  2000.  These types of applications are not
                     common in(1,8) a windows environment, but do exist.
              exec(3,n,1 builtins) will not work well with TUI applications when a console(4,n)  is
              not  present, as is done when launching applications under wish.
              It  is  desirable  to  have  console(4,n)  applications  hidden   and
              detached.   This  is  a  designed-in limitation as exec(3,n,1 builtins) wants to
              communicate over pipes.  The  Expect  extension  addresses  this
              issue when communication between a TUI application is desired.


       Windows NT
              When  attempting  to execute an application, exec(3,n,1 builtins) first searches
              for the name as it was specified.  Then, in(1,8) order,  .com,  .exe,
              and  .bat  are  appended to the end of the specified name and it
              searches for the longer name.  If a directory name was not spec-
              ified as part of the application name, the following directories
              are automatically searched in(1,8) order when  attempting  to  locate
              the application:

                     The directory from which the Tcl executable was loaded.
                     The current directory.
                     The Windows NT 32-bit system directory.
                     The Windows NT 16-bit system directory.
                     The Windows NT home directory.
                     The directories listed in(1,8) the path.

              In  order  to  execute  the  shell builtin commands like dir and
              copy, the caller must prepend ``cmd.exe  /c ''  to  the  desired
              command.


       Windows 95
              When  attempting  to execute an application, exec(3,n,1 builtins) first searches
              for the name as it was specified.  Then, in(1,8) order,  .com,  .exe,
              and  .bat  are  appended to the end of the specified name and it
              searches for the longer name.  If a directory name was not spec-
              ified as part of the application name, the following directories
              are automatically searched in(1,8) order when  attempting  to  locate
              the application:

                     The directory from which the Tcl executable was loaded.
                     The current directory.
                     The Windows 95 system directory.
                     The Windows 95 home directory.
                     The directories listed in(1,8) the path.

              In  order  to  execute  the  shell builtin commands like dir and
              copy, the caller must prepend ``command.com /c '' to the desired
              command.

              Once  a  16-bit  DOS  application has read(2,n,1 builtins) standard input from a
              console(4,n) and then quit, all subsequently run 16-bit DOS  applica-
              tions  will  see  the  standard input as already closed.  32-bit
              applications do not have this problem and  will  run  correctly,
              even  after  a 16-bit DOS application thinks that standard input
              is closed.  There is no known workaround for this  bug  at  this
              time.

              Redirection  between  the  NUL:  device and a 16-bit application
              does not always work.  When redirecting from NUL:, some applica-
              tions  may  hang, others will get an infinite stream of ``0x01''
              bytes, and some will actually correctly get an immediate end-of-
              file(1,n);  the behavior seems to depend upon something compiled into
              the application itself.  When redirecting greater than 4K or  so
              to NUL:, some applications will hang.  The above problems do not
              happen with 32-bit applications.

              All DOS 16-bit applications are run synchronously.  All standard
              input  from a pipe(2,8) to a 16-bit DOS application is collected into
              a temporary file(1,n); the other end  of  the  pipe(2,8)  must  be  closed
              before  the  16-bit DOS application begins executing.  All stan-
              dard output or error(8,n) from a 16-bit DOS application to a pipe(2,8)  is
              collected  into  temporary files; the application must terminate
              before the temporary files are redirected to the next  stage  of
              the  pipeline.  This is due to a workaround for a Windows 95 bug
              in(1,8) the implementation of pipes, and is how the standard  Windows
              95 DOS shell handles pipes itself.

              Certain  applications,  such  as command.com, should not be exe-
              cuted interactively.  Applications  which  directly  access(2,5)  the
              console(4,n)  window,  rather  than reading from their standard input
              and writing to their standard output may fail, hang Tcl, or even
              hang  the  system  if(3,n)  their  own  private console(4,n) window is not
              available to them.

       Macintosh
              The exec(3,n,1 builtins) command is not implemented and  does  not  exist  under
              Macintosh.

       Unix
              The exec(3,n,1 builtins) command is fully functional and works as described.


SEE ALSO
       error(8,n)(n), open(2,3,n)(n)


KEYWORDS
       execute, pipeline, redirection, subprocess



Tcl                                   7.6                              exec(3,n,1 builtins)(n)

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