Why Do People Use the “echo” Command When Installing Software in Linux?
There are many of the commands and variations thereof may seem a bit confusing if you are new in using Linux. Take the “echo” command, for example. Why do people use it when installing software? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has the answer to a new Linux user’s question.
Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.
SuperUser reader PallavBakshi wants to know why people use the “echo” command when installing software in Linux:
I am new to the computing world. While installing ROS Indigo, the first step said that I should use the following code:
sudo sh -c ‘echo “deb http://packages.ros.org/ros/ubuntu $(lsb_release -sc) main” > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ros-latest.list’
Why do people use the “echo” command along with “sh -c” in this context? I have seen the “echo” command used in other installation processes as well.
SuperUser contributor Fleet Command has the answer for us:
Ordinarily, the function of the “echo” command is to display a string (piece of text) on the console. But this time, a (greater than) > character is added after the echo command, redirecting its output to a text file located in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ros-latest.list.
Basically, this whole command writes a piece of text to a text file (overwrites the text file and appends information to the end). Now, here comes the tricky part:
The string written to the file may be different for each computer. The part, $(lsb_release -sc), is resolved (changed into something else) when the “echo” command runs.
You can open /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ros-latest.list in a text editor before and after the command to see the changes for yourself. Keep in mind that the file might not exist before using this command.