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I'm writing a script to copy some files around, and trying to use shopt -s dotglob to enable cp to copy dotfiles like .jshint and whatnot.

I can run shopt -s dotglob directly at a bash prompt with no error. However, running the script throws the error: 81: shopt: not found

I'm running this script in bash shell, with the shebang header #!/usr/bin/env bash. Error line:

shopt -s dotglob
cp -r $TEMP/img/* $TARGET/img/
cp -r $TEMP/js/* $TARGET/js/
cp -r $TEMP/less/* $TARGET/less/

Not finding anything helpful on google, any idea what the problem is here?

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Thanks for the reminder, selected answers for all that I could. Still one besides this question that doesn't have a good answer yet. – Kurtosis Aug 27 '12 at 8:15
Thanks, much appreciated :) – izx Aug 27 '12 at 8:15
Try with the simpler #!/bin/bash header? – izx Aug 27 '12 at 8:17
And which Ubuntu version? – izx Aug 27 '12 at 8:19
@izx, that is the right answer, shopt is a bash builtin, sh does not have shopt, and the error message looks like an error message from dash. So most likely the error here is running a bash script with sh (which in Ubuntu is dash by default). Even if sh is a symlink to bash, running a bash script with sh is not the same as running it with bash. – geirha Aug 27 '12 at 10:25
up vote 11 down vote accepted

To form an answer from the comments:

Many people out of habit run their scripts with sh instead of bash. This is a good practice if portability is a concern, but many people do so because they're copying something they've seen without understanding it.

Unless your script needs to run on a non-desktop Linux system (e.g., running shell scripts on Android devices is quite different), I recommend using the Bash shebang line at the beginning:


This line, when it's the first line in the script, determines which interpreter (shell such as bash or sh, Python, etc.) is called to execute it. If you use the above line, you'll get the same behavior (almost) as you do from the command line, assuming you use the default shell. If for reasons of portability or preference you use a different shebang line, be aware that you'll have to consult the documentation for the shell you've referenced, even if the shell you reference is a symlink to Bash.

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That did the trick, thanks. – Kurtosis Aug 28 '12 at 7:21
To be completely cross-system, I prefer: #!/usr/bin/env bash as it is env's job to know which bash to use (in case you've patched it, for example). – shrikeh Jan 25 '14 at 14:16

use the full (absolute) path to the binary your script is trying to run. So, instead of just entering shopt by itself, you would enter


This ensures that you’re running the binary that you want to, but it’s a more “brittle” approach. If your script is run on a system where the binary you are calling is in a different location, your script will break when the command is not found. One approach to help cut down on this drawback is to use the whereis command to locate the command for you.

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Unfortunately shopt is not a binary, it's a builtin bash command, so it's not in the system path. You call it from a bash shell or, I thought anyway, a bash script. – Kurtosis Aug 27 '12 at 8:16
-1 your answer is simply wrong – A.B. May 6 '15 at 7:37

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