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Learning the bash Shell, Second Edition by Bill Rosenblatt, Cameron Newham

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Signals

We mentioned earlier that typing CTRL-Z to suspend a job is similar to typing CTRL-C to stop a job, except that you can resume the job later. They are actually similar in a deeper way: both are particular cases of the act of sending a signal to a process.

A signal is a message that one process sends to another when some abnormal event takes place or when it wants the other process to do something. Most of the time, a process sends a signal to a subprocess it created. You’re undoubtedly already comfortable with the idea that one process can communicate with another through an I/O pipeline; think of a signal as another way for processes to communicate with each other. (In fact, any textbook on operating systems will tell you that both are examples of the general concept of interprocess communication, or IPC.) [109]

Depending on the version of UNIX, there are two or three dozen types of signals, including a few that can be used for whatever purpose a programmer wishes. Signals have numbers (from 1 to the number of signals the system supports) and names; we’ll use the latter. You can get a list of all the signals on your system, by name and number, by typing kill -l. Bear in mind, when you write shell code involving signals, that signal names are more portable to other versions of UNIX than signal numbers.

Control-Key Signals

When you type CTRL-C, you tell the shell to send the INT (for “interrupt”) signal to the current job; CTRL-Z sends TSTP (on most systems, for “terminal ...

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