Shell and Background Jobs

Klaus on-rev klaus at
Wed Aug 24 05:48:31 EDT 2011

Hi Chris,

Am 23.08.2011 um 22:32 schrieb Nonsanity:

> Now that the earth has stopped shaking here, I can re-write this email. I
> lost the first rendition by switching to the USGS web site for details on
> the 5.9 earthquake we had nearby (geographically speaking). Anyway...
> I've been trying to do some shell() background jobs on the Mac, ones that
> will take a long time to execute. Sometimes adding the & to the end of the
> string I pass to shell() makes shell return immediately, and I can see the
> task started in Process Monitor. Other times shell keeps control until the
> task is done (or I kill it in frustration).
> I made a new stack with a button and a field and put this script in the
> button:
> on mouseup
>    put "start" into fld 1
>    get shell( "sleep 5 &" )
>    put "end" into fld 1
> end mouseup
> Now that SHOULD background the sleep so that shell returns immediately and
> replaces the "start" with "end" in fld 1 so that you never really even see
> the "start". But I get 5 seconds of "start" before "end" appears.
> In Terminal, the same "sleep 5 &" will return immediately, while leaving off
> the "&" will make it delay 5 seconds before getting a new prompt.
> At the same time, I have a big, complex HandBrake command that DOES
> background correctly. I can't figure out why that one works consistently. :(
> Has anyone else researched this and found some pertinent facts they can
> share?

yes, I have been "backgounding" shell calls in the past with a "*.sh" FILE!
This is a script that starts some copy action in the background:

command mkCopy tList

  ## tList contains a CR and TAB delimited list of files to be copied:
  ## item 1 of each line is the SOURCE file, item 2 the TARGET file
  set itemdel to TAB

  ## Prepare the BATCH file
  put the tempname & ".sh" into shell_file
  set the filetype to ""
  put "#!/bin/sh" & CR & CR into shell_liste
  repeat for each line i in kopierliste
    put "ditto" && q(item 1 of i) && q(item 2 of i) & CR after shell_liste
  end repeat
  delete char -1 of shell_liste
  ## NO "normal" CR in shell files! Found this hint somewhere on the net
  replace numtochar(13) with numtochar(8) in shell_liste

  ## Therefore BINFILE!
  put shell_liste into url("binfile:" & shell_file)
  if the result <> empty then
     answer "Problem:" && the result
     exit mkCopy
  end if
  ## Need to make the file executable
  get shell("chmod 777" && q(shell_file))
   if the result <> empty then
    answer "Problem:" && the result
    exit mkCopy
  end if

  ## The OS will know how to handle SH files!
  launch shell_file
end mkCopy

This will copy all files in the background, but haven't used it for a couple of years.
You get the picture!

At least worth a try :-)

> ~ Chris Innanen
> ~ Nonsanity



Klaus Major
klaus at

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