Linux Know-How provides a collection of introductory texts on often needed Linux skills.

Creating Variables

Variables are case sensitive and capitalized by default. Giving local variables a lowercase name is a convention which is sometimes applied. However, you are free to use the names you want or to mix cases. Variables can also contain digits, but a name starting with a digit is not allowed:

prompt> export 1number=1
bash: export: `1number=1': not a valid identifier

To set a variable in the shell, use


Putting spaces around the equal sign will cause errors. It is a good habit to quote content strings when assigning values to variables: this will reduce the chance that you make errors.

Some examples using upper and lower cases, numbers and spaces:

franky ~> MYVAR1="2"

franky ~7gt; echo $MYVAR1

franky ~> first_name="Franky"

franky ~> echo $first_name

franky ~> full_name="Franky M. Singh"

franky ~> echo $full_name
Franky M. Singh

franky ~> MYVAR-2="2"
bash: MYVAR-2=2: command not found

franky ~> MYVAR1 ="2"
bash: MYVAR1: command not found

franky ~> MYVAR1= "2"
bash: 2: command not found

franky ~> unset MYVAR1 first_name full_name

franky ~> echo $MYVAR1 $first_name $full_name
<--no output-->

franky ~>

Last Update: 2010-12-16