Shell Unit Testing for the masses
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Bash (and shell) unit testing for the masses

provashell is a simple bash unit testing library that employs annotations and is completely self-contained on one file. It should work on most POSIX shells as any bash-specific functionality has been avoided (it has been tested on bash, dash and zsh).

Getting Started

Usage is relatively straightfoward (using latest release version):

curl -O ''
cat > <<EOF
foo1() {
	assertTrue `[ 0 -eq 0 ]; echo $?`
    assertEq 0 0
    assertEquals foo foo

. ./provashell
chmod a+x


I was looking for an Apache2.0-licensed shell testing library that was relatively simple and had no complex dependencies. Could not find anything so I just cooked something together. There are of course plenty of great shell testing libraries out there!


There are three ways to get the script:

The quick n' dirty

Downloading the script itself is enough as provashell has no dependencies (example downloads the 2.2.0 release).

curl -O ''

Using git

Just clone the repository and you are ready to go, the script itself is in src/main/bash/provashell

git clone
ls -l src/main/bash/provashell

You can work on the master itself as in the previous example or pick the release of your choosing with git tag -l

Building a deployable rpm using Maven

This runs provashell's tests and creates a rpm that that installs the script on /opt/provashell/provashell though the RPM itself is relocatable. The rpm file can be found at target/rpm/provashell/RPMS/noarch/provashell. To just run the tests and not build the RPM do mvn test.

Example of building master:

git clone
mvn package
find target/rpm -name '*.rpm' -exec rpm -ilv -qp '{}' \;

This method requires Java and Apache Maven! to be installed, as well as the rpmbuild tool (which can be found in the rpm-build package on CentOS or similar packages in other distributions).

## Usage

provashell employs annotations to run the tests, preparation and cleanup functions. Annotations are linkes like #@Annotation, without any spaces or tabs before the comment or in the annotation itself. The annotation line must come just before the affected function, with no extra lines in between.

A sample test script looks like this:


	init() {
		echo 'Preparation function: this just runs one time before all tests'

	end() {
		echo 'Cleanup function: this just runs one time after all tests'

	setUp() {
		echo 'Runs before each test'

	tearDown() {
		echo 'Runs after each test'

	foo() {
		assertTrue `echo 0`
		assertEq 'Zeroes should be equal' 0 0

	fooTestNotRunning() {
		assertTrue `[ 0 -eq 0 ]; echo $?`

	. provashell

API Reference

The following annotations are defined:


Runs the function once before any tests are run.


Runs the function once after all tests are run.


Runs the function before each test is run.


Runs the function after each test is run.

The last function annotated as such is the one used in every case (for instance, if two @BeforeScript functions are declared, only the last one will be used.


Identifies the function as a test and it is run once by provashell, note that test order in the script is respected.

The following assertions are defined:

assertTrue ['message']

Checks if the content equals true (that is, 0), otherwise it prints message to STDOUT. To evaluate an expression or command, this shortcut can be used: assertTrue $(command; echo $?) or even custom test expressions such as: assertTrue $([ 0 -eq 0 ]; echo $?) which comes in handy if the test expression in question is not provided in provashell. Note that if no message argument is passed a default one will be output.

assertFalse ['message']

Equivalent to assertTrue but expecting the expression to evaluate to false.

asserEq ['message']

Assertion testing the equality of two numbers using the -eq test.

assertNe ['message']

Assertion testing the inequality of two numbers using the -ne test. Not terribly useful in most tests but here we go.

assertEquals ['message'] <'expected string'> <'actual string'>

Assertion testing the equality of two strings using =

assertNotEquals ['message'] <'expected string'> <'actual string'>

Assertion testing the inequality of two strings using !=

assertZ ['message'] <'string expected to be empty'>

Assertion checking if the input string is empty (using -z).

assertN ['message'] <'string expected to be nonempty'>

Assertion checking if the input string is not empty (anything that gets -z to be false).

Helper assertion functions

These are complimentary asserts that are completely optional and just provided for convenience.

assertPing ['message'] <'IP or DNS entry'>

Ping the specified address with a single packet with default timeout. Will fail if the IP cannot be reached or the DNS entry does not resolve. This test currently attaches to the default network interface.

assertTCPConnect ['message'] <'IP or DNS entry'> <port>

Connect to the specified address and port using netcat -z (zero I/O flag). Will fail if the IP cannot be reached or the DNS entry does not resolve. This test currently attaches to the default network interface.

assertDNSLookup ['message'] <'DNS server IP'> <'DNS entry'>

Try to resolve the DNS entry using the specified DNS server. Will fail if the nameserver cannot be reached or the DNS entry does not resolve using that specified nameserver. This test currently attaches to the default network interface.

assertPublicDNSLookup ['message'] <'DNS entry'>

Try to resolve the DNS entry using a public DNS server (namely google's). Will fail if the google nameserver cannot be reached or the DNS entry does not resolve corectly. This test currently attaches to the default network interface.

Assert function return codes

The following codes are returned by assertion functions:


Assertion evaluated as expected (ie. the expression was expected to be true and it was).


General problem with the test.


Assertion did not evaluate as expected (ie. the expression was expected to be true and it evaluated to false).


Incorrect number of parameters passed to the assertion (empty strings like '' are considered correct input parameters).


The expression passed to the assertion was not a valid expression.

The following utility methods are also available:


Prevents assertions from being cheked. This means that the test expressions themselves will not be evaluated at all. Input checking will still be done so clear errors such as are not passing any input to tests are not masked by skipping.


Behaviour is back to assertions being checked.


Returns 0 if provashell is skipping tests

Environment variables

These environment variables modify the behaviour of provashell if they are defined with any nonempty value:


Adds some diagnostics messages to output, such as test functions being executed.


Adds even more diagnostics messages to output. For instance it outputs which assertions are actually being executed.


Supresses provashell's normal output (for now the end message stating how many tests have been ran). Overrides PS_VERBOSE and PS_TRACE.


If a test fails it will exit with (3). Useful to stop execution of build pipelines.


Failure messages are output to STDERR instead of STDOUT (which is the default).


Number of seconds of timeout for network asserts (default is 1 second).

## A note on security

provashell previously used eval for added flexibility and to support running expressions directly. Which meant that if expressions included user-supplied input there was a very real security risk. Now the library does not run eval anymore so it should now be much more secure (yay!). You should check the source code in any case and see for yourself.

The only code actually ran by the testing library is the set of setup functions (@BeforeScript, @AfterScript, @Before, @After and the @Test's themselves) as expected. If these functions include user-supplied input then use at your own risk.


Absolutely welcome! Just do a pull request :)

Release notes

2.2.0 - Added network timeout environment variable and assert trace support 2.1.1 - Fixed an assertN, assertZ bug where the assertion did not work when having a message (thx to @jroimartin)


Copyright 2016 Daniel Giribet <dani ->

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.