The difference between parameter and variable in bash


Transfered from Linux Config Disqus comments:

Hi, in bash context what is the difference between parameter and variable?


In a bash context a parameter is an entity that stores values. Furthermore, a parameter can be a name ( variable ), number ( positional parameter ) or special character ( special parameter ). Therefore, a variable is a parameter denoted by a name. ( see: man bash ). Let’s have a closer look on all three bash parameters:

Variable has a value assigned to it. It also can have 0 or more attributes. A value may be assigned to a variable by a following statement:




myname="Gnu Bash"
printf "%s
" "$myname"

Positional parameter

Positional parameter is denoted by one or digits. It is assigned by one or more arguments supplied to a script upon the script execution.


printf "%s
" "My name is $1 $2"

Special Parameters

Special parameters are denoted by a one or more special characters from a following list: *, @, #, ?, -, $, !, 0 and _ . For example * expands to positional parameters. In other words it prints all arguments supplied on the command line upon the script execution:

echo $*


./special GNU Bash parameter vs variable
GNU Bash parameter vs variable

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