FC(1P) POSIX Programmer's Manual FC(1P)PROLOG
This manual page is part of the POSIX Programmer's Manual. The Linux
implementation of this interface may differ (consult the corresponding
Linux manual page for details of Linux behavior), or the interface may
not be implemented on Linux.
NAMEfc — process the command history list
SYNOPSISfc [−r] [−e editor] [first [last]]
fc −l [−nr] [first [last]]
fc −s [old=new] [first]
The fc utility shall list, or shall edit and re-execute, commands pre‐
viously entered to an interactive sh.
The command history list shall reference commands by number. The first
number in the list is selected arbitrarily. The relationship of a num‐
ber to its command shall not change except when the user logs in and no
other process is accessing the list, at which time the system may reset
the numbering to start the oldest retained command at another number
(usually 1). When the number reaches an implementation-defined upper
limit, which shall be no smaller than the value in HISTSIZE or 32767
(whichever is greater), the shell may wrap the numbers, starting the
next command with a lower number (usually 1). However, despite this
optional wrapping of numbers, fc shall maintain the time-ordering
sequence of the commands. For example, if four commands in sequence are
given the numbers 32766, 32767, 1 (wrapped), and 2 as they are exe‐
cuted, command 32767 is considered the command previous to 1, even
though its number is higher.
When commands are edited (when the −l option is not specified), the
resulting lines shall be entered at the end of the history list and
then re-executed by sh. The fc command that caused the editing shall
not be entered into the history list. If the editor returns a non-zero
exit status, this shall suppress the entry into the history list and
the command re-execution. Any command line variable assignments or re‐
direction operators used with fc shall affect both the fc command
itself as well as the command that results; for example:
fc −s −− −1 2>/dev/null
reinvokes the previous command, suppressing standard error for both fc
and the previous command.
The fc utility shall conform to the Base Definitions volume of
POSIX.1‐2008, Section 12.2, Utility Syntax Guidelines.
The following options shall be supported:
−e editor Use the editor named by editor to edit the commands. The edi‐
tor string is a utility name, subject to search via the PATH
variable (see the Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008,
Chapter 8, Environment Variables). The value in the FCEDIT
variable shall be used as a default when −e is not specified.
If FCEDIT is null or unset, ed shall be used as the editor.
−l (The letter ell.) List the commands rather than invoking an
editor on them. The commands shall be written in the sequence
indicated by the first and last operands, as affected by −r,
with each command preceded by the command number.
−n Suppress command numbers when listing with −l.
−r Reverse the order of the commands listed (with −l) or edited
(with neither −l nor −s).
−s Re-execute the command without invoking an editor.
The following operands shall be supported:
Select the commands to list or edit. The number of previous
commands that can be accessed shall be determined by the
value of the HISTSIZE variable. The value of first or last or
both shall be one of the following:
[+]number A positive number representing a command number;
command numbers can be displayed with the −l
−number A negative decimal number representing the command
that was executed number of commands previously.
For example, −1 is the immediately previous com‐
string A string indicating the most recently entered com‐
mand that begins with that string. If the old=new
operand is not also specified with −s, the string
form of the first operand cannot contain an embed‐
When the synopsis form with −s is used:
* If first is omitted, the previous command shall be used.
For the synopsis forms without −s:
* If last is omitted, last shall default to the previous
command when −l is specified; otherwise, it shall default
* If first and last are both omitted, the previous 16 com‐
mands shall be listed or the previous single command
shall be edited (based on the −l option).
* If first and last are both present, all of the commands
from first to last shall be edited (without −l) or listed
(with −l). Editing multiple commands shall be accom‐
plished by presenting to the editor all of the commands
at one time, each command starting on a new line. If
first represents a newer command than last, the commands
shall be listed or edited in reverse sequence, equivalent
to using −r. For example, the following commands on the
first line are equivalent to the corresponding commands
on the second:
fc −r 10 20 fc 30 40
fc 20 10 fc −r 40 30
* When a range of commands is used, it shall not be an
error to specify first or last values that are not in the
history list; fc shall substitute the value representing
the oldest or newest command in the list, as appropriate.
For example, if there are only ten commands in the his‐
tory list, numbered 1 to 10:
fc 1 99
shall list and edit, respectively, all ten commands.
old=new Replace the first occurrence of string old in the commands to
be re-executed by the string new.
The following environment variables shall affect the execution of fc:
FCEDIT This variable, when expanded by the shell, shall determine
the default value for the −e editor option's editor option-
argument. If FCEDIT is null or unset, ed shall be used as the
HISTFILE Determine a pathname naming a command history file. If the
HISTFILE variable is not set, the shell may attempt to access
or create a file .sh_history in the directory referred to by
the HOME environment variable. If the shell cannot obtain
both read and write access to, or create, the history file,
it shall use an unspecified mechanism that allows the history
to operate properly. (References to history ``file'' in this
section shall be understood to mean this unspecified mecha‐
nism in such cases.) An implementation may choose to access
this variable only when initializing the history file; this
initialization shall occur when fc or sh first attempt to
retrieve entries from, or add entries to, the file, as the
result of commands issued by the user, the file named by the
ENV variable, or implementation-defined system start-up
files. In some historical shells, the history file is ini‐
tialized just after the ENV file has been processed. There‐
fore, it is implementation-defined whether changes made to
HISTFILE after the history file has been initialized are
effective. Implementations may choose to disable the history
list mechanism for users with appropriate privileges who do
not set HISTFILE; the specific circumstances under which this
occurs are implementation-defined. If more than one instance
of the shell is using the same history file, it is unspeci‐
fied how updates to the history file from those shells inter‐
act. As entries are deleted from the history file, they shall
be deleted oldest first. It is unspecified when history file
entries are physically removed from the history file.
HISTSIZE Determine a decimal number representing the limit to the num‐
ber of previous commands that are accessible. If this vari‐
able is unset, an unspecified default greater than or equal
to 128 shall be used. The maximum number of commands in the
history list is unspecified, but shall be at least 128. An
implementation may choose to access this variable only when
initializing the history file, as described under HISTFILE.
Therefore, it is unspecified whether changes made to HISTSIZE
after the history file has been initialized are effective.
LANG Provide a default value for the internationalization vari‐
ables that are unset or null. (See the Base Definitions vol‐
ume of POSIX.1‐2008, Section 8.2, Internationalization Vari‐
ables for the precedence of internationalization variables
used to determine the values of locale categories.)
LC_ALL If set to a non-empty string value, override the values of
all the other internationalization variables.
LC_CTYPE Determine the locale for the interpretation of sequences of
bytes of text data as characters (for example, single-byte as
opposed to multi-byte characters in arguments and input
Determine the locale that should be used to affect the format
and contents of diagnostic messages written to standard
NLSPATH Determine the location of message catalogs for the processing
When the −l option is used to list commands, the format of each command
in the list shall be as follows:
"%d\t%s\n", <line number>, <command>
If both the −l and −n options are specified, the format of each command
If the <command> consists of more than one line, the lines after the
first shall be displayed as:
The standard error shall be used only for diagnostic messages.
The following exit values shall be returned:
0 Successful completion of the listing.
>0 An error occurred.
Otherwise, the exit status shall be that of the commands executed by
CONSEQUENCES OF ERRORS
The following sections are informative.
Since editors sometimes use file descriptors as integral parts of their
editing, redirecting their file descriptors as part of the fc command
can produce unexpected results. For example, if vi is the FCEDIT edi‐
tor, the command:
fc −s | more
does not work correctly on many systems.
Users on windowing systems may want to have separate history files for
each window by setting HISTFILE as follows:
This utility is based on the fc built-in of the KornShell.
An early proposal specified the −e option as [−e editor [old= new ]],
which is not historical practice. Historical practice in fc of either
[−e editor] or [−e − [ old= new ]] is acceptable, but not both
together. To clarify this, a new option −s was introduced replacing the
[−e −]. This resolves the conflict and makes fc conform to the Utility
HISTFILE Some implementations of the KornShell check for the superuser
and do not create a history file unless HISTFILE is set. This
is done primarily to avoid creating unlinked files in the
root file system when logging in during single-user mode.
HISTFILE must be set for the superuser to have history.
HISTSIZE Needed to limit the size of history files. It is the intent
of the standard developers that when two shells share the
same history file, commands that are entered in one shell
shall be accessible by the other shell. Because of the diffi‐
culties of synchronization over a network, the exact nature
of the interaction is unspecified.
The initialization process for the history file can be dependent on the
system start-up files, in that they may contain commands that effec‐
tively preempt the settings the user has for HISTFILE and HISTSIZE.
For example, function definition commands are recorded in the history
file. If the system administrator includes function definitions in some
system start-up file called before the ENV file, the history file is
initialized before the user can influence its characteristics. In some
historical shells, the history file is initialized just after the ENV
file has been processed. Because of these situations, the text requires
the initialization process to be implementation-defined.
Consideration was given to omitting the fc utility in favor of the com‐
mand line editing feature in sh. For example, in vi editing mode, typ‐
ing "<ESC>v" is equivalent to:
However, the fc utility allows the user the flexibility to edit multi‐
ple commands simultaneously (such as fc 10 20) and to use editors other
than those supported by sh for command line editing.
In the KornShell, the alias r (``re-do'') is preset to fc −e − (equiva‐
lent to the POSIX fc −s). This is probably an easier command name to
remember than fc (``fix command''), but it does not meet the Utility
Syntax Guidelines. Renaming fc to hist or redo was considered, but
since this description closely matches historical KornShell practice
already, such a renaming was seen as gratuitous. Users are free to
create aliases whenever odd historical names such as fc, awk, cat,
grep, or yacc are standardized by POSIX.
Command numbers have no ordering effects; they are like serial numbers.
The −r option and −number operand address the sequence of command exe‐
cution, regardless of serial numbers. So, for example, if the command
number wrapped back to 1 at some arbitrary point, there would be no
ambiguity associated with traversing the wrap point. For example, if
the command history were:
32766: echo 1
32767: echo 2
1: echo 3
the number −2 refers to command 32767 because it is the second previous
command, regardless of serial number.
The Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Chapter 8, Environment
Variables, Section 12.2, Utility Syntax Guidelines
Portions of this text are reprinted and reproduced in electronic form
from IEEE Std 1003.1, 2013 Edition, Standard for Information Technology
-- Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX), The Open Group Base
Specifications Issue 7, Copyright (C) 2013 by the Institute of Electri‐
cal and Electronics Engineers, Inc and The Open Group. (This is
POSIX.1-2008 with the 2013 Technical Corrigendum 1 applied.) In the
event of any discrepancy between this version and the original IEEE and
The Open Group Standard, the original IEEE and The Open Group Standard
is the referee document. The original Standard can be obtained online
at http://www.unix.org/online.html .
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IEEE/The Open Group 2013 FC(1P)