Linux Question: What is /dev/null 2>&1 ?
>> /dev/null redirects standard output (
/dev/null, which discards it.
>> seems sort of superfluous, since
>> means append while
> means truncate and write, and either appending to or writing to
/dev/null has the same net effect. I usually just use
> for that reason.)
2>&1 redirects standard error (
2) to standard output (
1), which then discards it as well since standard output has already been redirected.
>> /dev/null 2>&1 statement into parts:
>> output redirection
This is used to redirect the program output and append the output at the end of the file. More…
/dev/null special file
This is a Pseudo-devices special file.
ls -l /dev/null will give you details of this file:
crw-rw-rw-. 1 root root 1, 3 Mar 20 18:37 /dev/null
Did you observe
crw? Which means it is a pseudo-device file which is of character-special-file type that provides serial access.
/dev/nullaccepts and discards all input; produces no output (always returns an end-of-file indication on a read). Reference: Wikipedia
2>&1 (Merges output from stream 2 with stream 1)
Whenever you execute a program, the operating system always opens three files, standard input, standard output, and standard error as we know whenever a file is opened, the operating system (from kernel) returns a non-negative integer called a file descriptor. The file descriptor for these files are 0, 1, and 2, respectively.
2>&1 simply says redirect standard error to standard output.
&means whatever follows is a file descriptor, not a filename.
In short, by using this command you are telling your program not to shout while executing.
What is the importance of using
If you don’t want to produce any output, even in case of some error produced in the terminal. To explain more clearly, let’s consider the following example:
$ ls -l > /dev/null
For the above command, no output was printed in the terminal, but what if this command produces an error:
$ ls -l file_doesnot_exists > /dev/null
ls: cannot access file_doesnot_exists: No such file or directory
Despite I’m redirecting output to
/dev/null, it is printed in the terminal. It is because we are not redirecting error output to
/dev/null, so in order to redirect error output as well, it is required to add
$ ls -l file_doesnot_exists > /dev/null 2>&1