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Linux Tips: How /dev/null Keeps Your Scripts Clean

Effectively manage and discard outputs and error messages in your scripts. We show you the hidden abilities of /dev/null in Linux, the digital ‘all-devourer’.

Linux offers the /dev/null file, a unique tool that may seem inconspicuous at first glance, but can be a great help in practice. This blog post sheds light on what /dev/null is and how it can be effectively used.

What is Linux /dev/null?

/dev/null acts in Linux as a so-called null device. Anything written to this file is discarded, and reading from it returns an EOF (end of file). /dev/null can be thought of as a digital trash can into which data can be “thrown”.

Features of Linux /dev/null

  • Attempting to read /dev/null with the `cat` command results in an EOF.
  • It is a valid file, as confirmed with the `stat /dev/null` command.
  • The file has a size of 0 bytes and no blocks are reserved for it.
  • File permissions allow reading and writing for all users, but no execution.

Use Cases for Linux /dev/null

1. Redirection of Outputs

You can redirect the output of scripts or commands to /dev/null to discard them. For example:

echo 'Example text' > /dev/null

2. Handling Errors

It gets interesting when error messages come into play. By default, only outputs (stdout), not error messages (stderr), are redirected to /dev/null. To discard error messages as well, there are two methods:

Direct redirection of stderr to /dev/null:

Command > /dev/null 2>/dev/null

Redirect stderr to stdout, then stdout to /dev/null:


/dev/null in Linux is a powerful tool that can be used in various ways to discard outputs and error messages. It helps maintain the clarity and neatness of scripts and is an essential part of the Linux toolbox.

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