Locking your bash script against parallel execution

Sometimes there’s a need to ensure only one copy of a script runs, i.e prevent two or more copies running simultaneously. Imagine an important cronjob doing something very important, which will fail or corrupt data if two copies of the called program were to run at the same time. To prevent this, a form of MUTEX (mutual exclusion) lock is needed.

The basic procedure is simple: The script checks if a specific condition (locking) is present at startup, if yes, it’s locked – the script doesn’t start.

This article describes locking with common UNIX® tools.

Method 1

setting the noclobber shell option (set -C). This will cause redirection to fail, if the file the redirection points to already exists (using diverse open() methods). Need to write a code example here.

 

Method 2

A simple way to get that is to create a lock directory – with the mkdir command. It will:

create a given directory only if it does not exist, and set a successful exit code
it will set an unsuccessful exit code if an error occurs – for example, if the directory specified already exists
With mkdir it seems, we have our two steps in one simple operation. A (very!) simple locking code might look like this:

In case mkdir reports an error, the script will exit at this point – the MUTEX did its job!