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In Java i can create a new random UUID with

UUID uuid = UUID.randomUUID();

I now need to do the same within a bash script. Is there a command or library I could use?

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7 Answers 7

up vote 48 down vote accepted

See the uuidgen program which is part of the e2fsprogs package.

According to this, libuuid is now part of util-linux and the inclusion in e2fsprogs is being phased out.

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hey, no fair! my e2fsprogs didn't come with that! i want one, where do i get it? (update: ahhh... debian sticks it in the uuid-runtime package for no apparent reason... +1 to you) –  quack quixote Jan 16 '10 at 14:05
uuidgen comes builtin on freeBSD. it isn't always in the e2fsprogs package. –  Good Person May 22 '14 at 1:58
EDIT: Just read the last line. I'm a dork. Please carry on..... Be interested to hear why this is bundled in e2fsprogs, as this doesn't really seem that much like a filesystem-specific tool to me. –  Rob Jul 10 '14 at 20:55
@Rob: To answer your original question, it's for drive labels. –  Dennis Williamson Jul 10 '14 at 21:45

To add variety without adding external dependencies, on linux you can do:

UUID=$(cat /proc/sys/kernel/random/uuid)


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This is awesome. –  Tom O'Connor Aug 7 '13 at 13:55
This should be avoided as it is highly non-portable (although FreeBSD supplies /compat/linux/proc/sys/kernel/random/uuid for poorly written applications) –  Good Person May 22 '14 at 1:58

Just for the sake of completeness... There's also a UUID generator installed with the dbus package on Debian. I missed it looking around earlier. It's probably the same algorithm as the e2fsprogs package, but it doesn't add the dashes, so it might be a little cleaner for you:

$ uuidgen

$ dbus-uuidgen

Grawity adds a safety tip: "DBus UUIDs are not related to or compatible with RFC 4122. Besides, dbus-uuidgen always uses the Unix timestamp as the last 4 bytes. So they might be unsuitable for some uses." (Thanks, Grawity, I should've spotted that in the manpage.)

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DBus UUIDs are not related to or compatible with RFC 4122. Besides, dbus-uuidgen always uses the Unix timestamp as the last 4 bytes. So they might be unsuitable for some uses. –  grawity Jan 16 '10 at 15:08

Perl provides a UUID library based on the e2fsprogs package. On my Debian system it's the libuuid-perl package. Here's an example one-liner; see man uuid for more:

$ perl -e 'use UUID;  UUID::generate($uuid);  UUID::unparse($uuid, $string);  print "my new UUID is $string \n";'
my new UUID is 3079e9ce-41d4-4cf3-9f90-d12f8bb752e4

This would be trivial to add to a shellscript with backticks or $() notation:

# ...do some stuff
$myvar = $(perl -e 'use UUID;  UUID::generate($uuid);  UUID::unparse($uuid, $string);  print "$string";')
# ...do some more stuff
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+1 - Help me a lot! –  rafa.ferreira Feb 16 '11 at 13:29

Just so python doesn't feel left out:

python  -c 'import uuid; print uuid.uuid1()'

Son in the shell:

myvar=$(python  -c 'import uuid; print uuid.uuid1()')

See the Python Documentation for the kinds of UUIDS that can be generated.

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If you do not want to depend on other executables, or you cannot use them, here is the pure bash version from here:

# Generate a pseudo UUID
    local N B T

    for (( N=0; N < 16; ++N ))
        B=$(( $RANDOM%255 ))

        if (( N == 6 ))
            printf '4%x' $(( B%15 ))
        elif (( N == 8 ))
            local C='89ab'
            printf '%c%x' ${C:$(( $RANDOM%${#C} )):1} $(( B%15 ))
            printf '%02x' $B

        for T in 3 5 7 9
            if (( T == N ))
                printf '-'


[ "$0" == "$BASH_SOURCE" ] && uuid
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The T variable can be eliminated and the for T loop can be changed to: case $N in 3 | 5 | 7 | 9) printf '-';; esac (broken out on separate lines if preferred). –  Dennis Williamson May 22 '14 at 14:08
I added a comment to the code at the github link showing a version using case to eliminate the if statements as well as the inner for statement. It makes the code much neater. Note that both B%15 should be B%16 and B%255 should be B%256. –  Dennis Williamson May 22 '14 at 17:47
apt-get install uuid

Worked for me, then id did run uuid

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