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According to the man page, xargs will quit if one of the execution lines exits with an error of 255:

If any invocation of the command exits with a status of 255, xargs will stop immediately without reading any further input. An error message is issued on stderr when this happens.

How can I get xargs to not do this?

I have a 1500 or so line batch job that I want to run, 50 lines at a time. I was finding that it was always dying at a certain line, and not completing the job. Not good!

An even better question, the question describing what I am trying to do, is:

How can I run a 1500 line batch script, 50 lines at a time, so that it does not quit the job in the middle, and so that the output is captured to a log file of some kind?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 0 down vote accepted

You could wrap the perl script with another simple bash script:

real-command "$@" || exit 0

This will call real-command passing it all the parameters that you pass to this fake-command and it will always return a 0 exit code (that means it is always successful) and xargs will never stop with this.

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You could write your xargs invocation to mask the return codes of your command lines. With something like the following,xargs will never see exit codes return by somecommand:

xargs sh -c "somecommand || :"
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I've come up with a good solution: make sure the commands being processed do not exit with a 255 status! Additional Details The command being processed is a Perl script. The Perl die() function was being used in several places to exit out if some critical error occurred (e.g. could not connect to a database). However, die() always exits with error status 255. The solution in this case was to replace die() with a combination of print and exit(), along with a more reasonable error code ("1" worked in this case). –  JDS Jul 11 '11 at 16:19

Similar to larsks answer but more explicit:

xargs sh -c "somecommand || true"
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Following construction works for me:

ls | xargs -I % svn upgrade %

Even if svn upgrade failed on some element, process was continued

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If you were using xargs with find, use the -exec option of find instead:

find . -name '*.log' -exec somecommand {} \;
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howdy. i could use that but the -exec option doesn't parallelize operations the way using xargs can and does –  JDS Oct 23 '14 at 14:52
Thank you -- I didn't know that xargs could run commands in parallel. Cool. If you only want to minimize the number of command invocations, -exec has a + parameter. –  Roger Dahl Oct 23 '14 at 15:05

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