[root@localhost /]# ( ./address_to_char;cat) | ./overflow

How does ( ./address_to_char;cat) work here?

What's different from ./address_to_char|./overflow?

2 Answers 2


The outputs of both ./address_to_char and cat are piped to ./overflow as a single, continuous stream of data.

  1. First, ./address_to_char is run, and its output is redirected to ./overflow's input.

  2. When ./address_to_char exits, cat is started, and its output is attached to the still-running ./overflow process in the same way.

    Since cat was run with no files specified, it reads from stdin (in this case, your keyboard).

  • @grawity,when will cat in subshell exit?
    – kernel
    Apr 17, 2011 at 15:12
  • @kernel: cat exits upon reaching the end of its input. In this case, it reads from keyboard, and will exit when you press the "EOF" key (by default Ctrl-D).
    – user1686
    Apr 17, 2011 at 15:17
  • @grawity,but after testing it seems it will also exit when ./overflow exits,weird...or is that normal?
    – kernel
    Apr 17, 2011 at 15:18
  • @kernel: It's normal. When the right side (./overflow) exits, the left side doesn't have anywhere to write to, and -- AFAIK -- gets killed by signal SIGPIPE.
    – user1686
    Apr 17, 2011 at 15:23
  • @grawity,that solves most of my doubt,but still one, how can ./overflow get executed before cat exits?
    – kernel
    Apr 17, 2011 at 15:28

Well the parentheses open a sub shell and the semi colon will run the commands sequentially.

So in this case, you are running ./address_to_char then cat in a subshell.

  • How does the subshell interact with ./overflow?
    – kernel
    Apr 17, 2011 at 8:53
  • stderr and stdout are returned and piped into overflow
    – kband
    Apr 17, 2011 at 9:08
  • The output of the subshell is then redirected into ./overflow
    – Troydm
    Apr 17, 2011 at 9:08
  • It seems there's no difference from ./address_to_char | ./overflow,right?
    – kernel
    Apr 17, 2011 at 9:12

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