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% RERUN(1) RERUN User Manual | 1.4.x


rerun - a modular shell automation framework to organize your keeper scripts.


rerun [-h][-v][-V] [-M <dir>] [--loglevel <>] [module:[command [options]]]


Rerun is a simple framework that turns loose shell scripts into modular automation. Rerun will help you organize your scripts into user friendly commands. Collections of rerun modules can be archived and delivered as a single executable or as RPMs or Debian packages to facilitate handoffs between teams. The included "stubbs" module, helps you develop your own rerun modules, generating option parsing code, documentation even unit tests for each of your commands.

End users can browse and execute commands via its two modes of operation:

  1. Listing: Rerun lists modules and commands. Listing information includes name, description and command line usage syntax.
  2. Execution: Rerun provides option processing (possibly defaulting unspecified arguments) and executes a script for the specified module command.

For the module developer, rerun is a trivial framework following simple conventions that easily fit in a shell environment. The "stubbs" module development tool helps create and enhance your rerun modules. Stubbs contains commands to generate option processing code, metadata definition, execute unit tests and generate documentation.

Internally, rerun implements a simple dispatching mechanism to look up named commands and execute them. Commands are logically named and have a corresponding script.

Commands reside in a module and can have named parameters called options. Each option is named, described and can also be defined to use a default value or say whether it is required or not.

Rerun modules can also declare metadata describing name, description and other aspects of each command. Rerun makes use of this metadata to support a listing mode, a feature where modules and command usage are summarized for end users.

See the project wiki for additional documentation including:


-h : Print help and usage then exit.

--loglevel level : Set the default log level (debug info warn error fatal). See rerun_log API.

-M DIRECTORY : Module library directory path.

-v : Execute command in verbose mode.

-V : Execute rerun and command in verbose mode.



For command line syntax and example usage execute rerun using the --help flag:

$ ./rerun --help
 _ __ ___ _ __ _   _ _ __
| '__/ _ \ '__| | | | '_ \
| | |  __/ |  | |_| | | | |
|_|  \___|_|   \__,_|_| |_|
Version: 1.4.x. License: Apache 2.0.

Usage: rerun [-h][-v][-V] [-M <dir>] [module:[command [options]]]


Without arguments, rerun will list existing modules and their description and version:

$ rerun
  stubbs: "Simple rerun module builder" - 1.1.2

To list the commands available in a module specify the module name too. Here the commands are listed for the 'stubbs' module:

$ rerun stubbs
 add-command: "add command to module"
     --command|-c <>: "the command name"
     --description <>: "the brief description"
     --module|-m <>: "the module name"
    [ --overwrite <false>]: "should overwrite?"
 add-module: "add a new module"
     --description <>: "the brief description"
     --module|-m <>: "the module name"
    [ --template <>]: "the template name or path"

The command listing includes the command description and any options assigned to the command.

Options that declare a default value are shown with a string between the "<>" characters.

For example, notice how "--overwrite" option shows <false>. The "false" is the default value assigned to the "--overwrite" option.

See the "Environment" section below to learn about the RERUN_MODULES environment variable. This variable specifies the directory/ies where rerun modules exist.

Bash completion

If you are a Bash shell user, be sure to source the file. It provides listing via the tab key.

Type rerun and then the tab key. The shell will generate a list of existing modules.

$ rerun[TAB][TAB]

Rerun shows the module "stubbs".

Typing the s character and the tab key again will show the commands inside the "stubbs" module:

$ rerun stubbs: [TAB]
add-command  add-module  add-option  archive  docs  edit  migrate  rm-option  test

Several commands are listed. Press tab again and choose a command. You can specify the first few characters and the command name will be completed, too.

After accepting a command, typing the tab key will list the command options.

$ rerun stubbs: add-module -[TAB]
--description  --module  --template

The stubbs:add-module command accepts three options (--description <> --module <> --template <>).

You can continue using command completion to cycle through the remaining options.

Command execution

Commands are executed by stating the module, command and any command options. The basic usage form is "rerun module:command [ options ]".

To run the "archive" command in the stubbs module, type:

$ rerun stubbs:archive
Wrote self extracting archive script: /tmp/

Command options are passed after the "module:command" string. Run the "stubbs:archive" command but specify where the archive file is written.

$ rerun stubbs:archive --modules waitfor --file $HOME/

If modules are stored in /var/rerun, then the command usage would be:

$ rerun -M /var/rerun stubbs:archive

You can also declare the RERUN_MODULES environment variable to sepcify the modules directory path.


After arching your rerun modules, you get a single executable file containing a copy of rerun and one or more modules (you might have a library of them). The archive uses the same exact interface as rerun,... all in one file!

Specifically, an archive is a set of modules and rerun itself packaged into a self extracting script (by default in a file named ""). Archives can be useful if you want to share a single self contained executable that contains all the needed modules.

Run an archive script like you would run rerun.

You can execute an archive via bash like so:

$ <module>:<command> --your options

If the execute bit is not set, invoke the archive using bash (e.g., bash <module>:<command>).

When the archive is executed without arguments you get module and command listings:

$ ./
  waitfor: "utility commands that wait for a condition."
  . listing output ommitted

Note, ".sh" is just a suffix naming convention for a self-extracting script. The archive file can be named anything you wish.

Run the waitfor:ping command in the archive:

$ ./ waitfor:ping --server remoteserver

Archive special options

Shell archives can be executed using special parameters of its own. Below is a list of these optional arguments:

  • --archive-version-release: Print the archive version and release info and exit.
  • --extract-only|-N <>: Extract the archive to the specified directory and exit.
  • --extract-dir|-D <>: Extract the archive to the specified directory and then execute the specified command. By default, the TMPDIR environment variable is used to create a directory to extract the archive.

Besies the self extractive archive format, stubbs can also generate RPM and Debian packages. See stubbs:archive for further information about creating and understanding rerun archives.



A rerun module assumes the following structure:

|-- commands
|-- `-- cmdA (each command gets its own subdirectory)
|--     |-- metadata   (command metadata containing name, description and options uses)
|--     |-- (option parsing script)
|--     `-- script     (script implementing the command)
|-- lib
|-- `-- (module function library)
|-- metadata (module metadata)
|-- options  (module options)
|   `-- optyY ("optY" option)
|       `-- metadata (declares metadata for "optY" option)
`-- tests
    `-- (unit tests for cmdA)

The "stubbs" module creates this directory structure for you but once you know the conventions you can create and edit these files directly (if you prefer).

Command Execution

Rerun's internal dispatch logic uses the directory and file convention described above to find and execute scripts for each command.

Once the user specifies the module and command to execute, rerun finds the command's script and executes it.

Command Line Arguments

Optionally, additional the remaining command line may be accessed via the _CMD_LINE environment variable. This may be used in the command's script if required.

For example, assume you have a command which sets up and runs an ubuntu Docker image and maps ./subdirectory in as the /opt directory within the container. Your module name is docker and your command is run-ubuntu. You have defined a required option named dir that specifies which directory to map into the container.

In your modules/docker/commands/run-ubuntu/script, you implement your script as follows:

HOME="-v $(pwd)/$DIR:/opt"
PARAMS="-it -a stdin -a stdout -u 1000"

If your rerun command line were:

rerun docker:run-ubuntu --dir subdirectory/ ls -l

This will effectively run:

docker run -it -a stdin -a stdout -u 1000 -v /home/me/subdirectory:/opt ubuntu:16.04 ls -l

(assuming you are currently in the /home/me directory)


The metadata file format uses line separated KEY=value pairs to define module attributes. The module metadata file declares two properties:

  • NAME: Declare name displayed to user.
  • DESCRIPTION: Brief explanation of use.

For example, a module named waitfor is declared in a file called RERUN_MODULES/waitfor/metadata:

DESCRIPTION="utility commands that wait for a condition."

Command metadata is described in a file called RERUN_MODULES/<module>/commands/<command>/metadata. It uses NAME and DESCRIPTION properties like a module but adds, OPTIONS.

  • OPTIONS: List of options assigned to the command.

Here's the command metadata for the "ping" command:

DESCRIPTION="wait for ping response from a host"
OPTIONS="host interval"

Each command can have options assigned to it. The example above shows that the "ping" command has options called "host" and "interval".

Options are described in their own metadata files following the naming convention: RERUN_MODULES/<module>/options/<option>/metadata. Beyond just NAME and DESCRIPTION, options can also declare:

  • ARGUMENTS: Does the option take an argument.
  • REQUIRED: Is the option required.
  • DEFAULT: Sensible value for an option default

Here's the metadata describing an option named "host":

DESCRIPTION="the server to reach"

Combining the examples above into the layout described earlier the "waitfor" module along with its command "ping" are illustrated here:

|-- commands
|   `-- ping
|       |-- metadata
|       |--
|       `-- script
|-- lib
|   `--
|-- metadata
|-- options
|   |-- jumps
|   |   `-- metadata
|   `-- subject
|       `-- metadata
`-- tests


The rerun executable is also a sourceable file containing a number of public functions useful in your modules. Read the rerun source file for the inline documentation.

Using stubbs:add-command to add commands to your module will already take care of sourcing the rerun file for you.

To source rerun yourself, simply "dot" the file:

. $(which rerun)

Exit on error

The rerun_die function will print a message and exit.

rerun_die "hit a nasty problem."

The default exit code is "1". You can specify another code:

rerun_die 3 "exiting this program with exit code 3"


A number of functions are useful for listing modules, commands and options.

  • rerun_modules directory - list the modules in the directory
  • rerun_commands directory module - List the commands for the specified module.
  • rerun_options directory module command - List the options assigned to command.
  • rerun_module_options directory module - List the options for the specified module


The rerun_log function provides an API to standard logging functions. If you would like to standardize how you write messages to the console or to a logfile (or syslog), consider rerun_log.

The rerun_log function can perform a variety of actions but the default one is to log a message to the configured (or default) log level.

rerun_log "this is my message text"

On the console, the user would see:

[info] : this is my message text

The default message level is "info".

The rerun_log function can perform a number of actions:

  • fmt-console ?format-string? - set or get the message format printed to console. Default: [%level%] %command%: %message%
  • fmt-logfile ?format-string? - set or get the message format printed to logfiles. Default [%tstamp%] [%level%] %command%: %message%
    • Message format strings support the following tokens:
      • %tstamp%: Date-timestamp (i.e., +%Y-%m-%dT%H%M%S-%Z)
      • %level%: The message level.
      • %command%: The command context (formatted as: module:command).
      • %message%: The message text.
  • levels - print the supported log levels. (eg, debug info warn error fatal)
  • level ?level? - set or get the current log level.
  • log priority message - write the message to the log at the specified priority.
  • logfile ?path? - set or get the current log file to write messages.
  • syslog ?facility? - set or get the current syslog facility. Set it to empty disables syslog.

To list the set of supported log levels use the levels action:

rerun_log levels
debug info warn error fatal

To find out the currently set log level use the level action:

rerun_log level

Messages will only be logged if the level is the same or greater than the current level. You can set it to another level to control what messages are produced.

rerun_log level error

Now only messages of error or fatal will be produced. Invalid log levels are ignored.

To write a message to a particular level, just specify it. Here's an info level message:

rerun_log info "here is an info message"

To write an error level message, use "error" action:

rerun_log error "here is an error message"

Messages of error or fatal level are written to stderr.

Log messages can also be written to a log file by specifying one via the logfile action.

rerun_log logfile my.log
rerun_log warn "here is a warning message"

Use the cat command to see the log messages:

cat my.log
[2013-09-12T121553-PDT] [warn] : here is a warning message

Notice the the logfile also includes a timestamp before the level name. To stop messages being written to the log file, set it to "" (empty string):

rerun_log logfile ""

Messages can also be directed to syslog by assigning a syslog facility via syslog action.

rerun_log syslog "local3"

Messages produced by rerun_log will directed to the local3.{level} priority.

rerun_log info "here is a message also visible in syslog"

On my system this is visible in /var/log/messages:

Sep 12 09:59:28 Targa.local alexh (rerun)[92715]: here is a message also visible in syslog

Be sure to specify a valid syslog facility name or you will get an error.

Typically, the rerun_log function is called from inside a command script. The module and command name will be read from the executing context and included as part of the standard message. Imagine a command hello:say --msg HI that logs its message:

rerun_log info "the message is '$MSG'"

The user would see the following message on the console:

[info] hello:say: the message is 'HI'


RERUN_MODULES : Path to directories containing rerun modules. If RERUN_MODULES is not set, it is defaulted relative to the location of the rerun executable. Multiple directories can be specified separated by a ':' (like $PATH).

RERUN_COLOR : Set 'true' if you want ANSI text effects. Makes labels in text to print bold in the console. Syntax errors will also print bold.


Rerun and its modules following the Semantic Versioning Specification. As a consequence, any backwards incompatible change to Rerun will result in its major version number being incremented. Module developers are expected to provide a version of their module compatible with each major version of Rerun.


To create modules, see stubbs.


0 : All commands executed successfully.

1 : One or more commands failed.

2 : Option syntax error.

127 : Unknown error case.


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.

The rerun source code and all documentation may be downloaded from