Executing Python Scripts With a Shebang

The Shebang, also known as hashbang, sharp-bang, or sha-bang, is the very first line in a Bash script that specifies the interpreter to use when running the script. It starts with the two characters #! followed by the path to the interpreter.

Here's a breakdown:

  1. #!: This symbol combination signifies the beginning of the Shebang line.
  2. Path to interpreter: This specifies the program that will execute the script's commands.

For Bash scripts, it's commonly /bin/bash but can be other interpreters like /usr/bin/python for Python scripts.

Here's an example of a Shebang line for a Bash script:


Benefits of using the Shebang

  1. Explicit interpreter: It explicitly tells the system which interpreter to use, avoiding any ambiguity or confusion.
  2. Portable scripts: Scripts with Shebangs can be easily executed on different systems with compatible interpreters.
  3. Simplified execution: You don't need to explicitly invoke the interpreter before running the script.

How the #! works?

The #! symbol at the beginning of a file, also known as the Shebang or HashBang, plays a crucial role in executing the file as a script. Here's how it works:

1. Identification:

  1. The #! combination signifies the first two bytes of the file, indicating it's not plain text but a script with specific execution requirements.
  2. The kernel, the core of the operating system, recognizes this magic number and treats the file differently than a regular text file.

2. Interpreter lookup:

  1. Everything after the #! on the first line is interpreted as the path to the program that should execute the script.
  2. For example, #!/bin/bash tells the kernel to use the Bash interpreter (/bin/bash) to understand and run the commands in the file.
  3. This information helps the kernel find the appropriate interpreter even if it's not in the user's current path.

3. Script execution:

  1. Once the interpreter is identified, the kernel forks a new process and loads the interpreter into memory.
  2. The interpreter then takes over, reading the rest of the script line by line and executing the commands it encounters.
  3. Each command is treated like a separate invocation of the interpreter, allowing for complex logic and conditional execution.
Example Execution:

Suppose you have a script named myscript.sh with the shebang #!/bin/bash. When you run ./myscript.sh from the command line, the system reads the shebang, locates the Bash interpreter at /bin/bash, and uses it to execute the script.

Script Execution Permission

Shebang and script execution permissions are like gatekeepers, determining who and what can run your script. They're represented by a set of letters ("rwx" for read, write, and execute) for owner, group, and others.

To execute a script:

  1. The file needs execute permission for the user running it.
  2. If the script modifies files or interacts with sensitive resources, it might need write access too.
  3. Setting appropriate permissions ensures your script runs only when intended and protects it from unauthorized modifications.

Putting it Together

Imagine the Shebang as the key and script execution permissions as the lock. Both are crucial for successful script execution:

  1. The Shebang provides the right key (interpreter) to fit the lock.
  2. The script's execution permissions determine if the lock is open for that specific key (user) to run the script.

It's essential for the script file to have the proper permissions to be executed. In Unix-like systems, you use the chmod command to set permissions. For instance, to make a script executable, you would run:

chmod +x script.sh

This grants execute permissions to the owner of the script. Without the execution permission, attempting to run the script might result in a permission denied error.

Once the script has the necessary permissions, the shebang line plays a crucial role. When you execute the script from the command line, the system reads the shebang line to determine which interpreter to use. For example, if the shebang is #!/bin/bash, the script will be executed using the Bash interpreter.

Here's a step-by-step breakdown:

Shebang Line:

  1. Located at the beginning of the script.
  2. Specifies the interpreter path, e.g., #!/bin/bash.

Script Execution Permissions:

  1. Use chmod to set execute permissions, e.g., chmod +x script.sh.
  2. Without execute permissions, running the script is not allowed.

Executing the Script:

  1. Run the script from the command line, e.g., ./script.sh.
  2. The system reads the shebang line to determine the interpreter.

When working with scripts, it's essential to prioritize security. Only download and execute scripts from reliable and trusted sources to minimize the risk of malicious activities. Exercise caution when granting write permissions to scripts, particularly when they involve handling sensitive data, as unintended consequences can arise. Prioritize a clear understanding of a script's functionality before running it, ensuring that you are aware of the actions it will perform on your system to maintain a secure and controlled environment.


The shebang guides the system on which interpreter to use, while proper execution permissions ensure the script can be run. Together, they are fundamental for the successful execution of Bash scripts in a Unix-like environment.