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Lab Assignment 1 - A Simple UNIX Shell

The objective of this assignment is to understand the workings of a command-line interface (CLI) and to obtain a working knowledge of process forking and signalling.

In this assignment we will build a command shell in stages. Our command shell will be a simple implementation of the commonly used command shells such as sh, bash, csh, and tcsh.

The assignment is split-up in tasks to implement separate features of our shell program. The code fragments for these tasks does not need to be separately submitted. Only the final implementation should be submitted for grading. If you are not able to complete the final tasks, you should be able to submit a partial but working shell program.

The textbook discusses a simple shell implementation at the end of Chapter 3. You may use this information as a resource.
Project team:

You are allowed to work on this assignment in a team of at most two students.
Submission of source code and report:

Submit the final program source code to the TA. You must include a report (two-page minimum) that describes your design choices and documentation of your code. Include your name and last four digits of your SSN in all source codes and accompanying reports.

You need to be familair with a UNIX command shell, such as tcsh, and you must be able to write, compile, and debug C or C++ programs.

Consult the manual pages to understand the following system calls and library functions:

int chdir(const char *path)
int execvp(const char *file, char *const argv[])
void exit(int status)
pid_t fork(void)
char *getcwd(char *buf, size_t size)
char getenv(const char *name)
void perror(const char *string)
int setenv(const char *name, const char *value, int overwrite)
sig_t signal(int sig, sig_t func)
pid_t wait(int *status)
pid_t waitpid(pid_t wpid, int *status, int options) 

Use the man command to access the manual pages. If you cannot access the man pages, add this line to your .tcshrc file and then logoff/logon:

setenv MANPATH /usr/man:/usr/share/man:/usr/local/man:/usr/local/share/man

Note that perror prints an error message when errno is set. It should only be used when a system call or library function call fails and errno is set.

Another useful function we will use is assert to assist us with debugging. For example:

assert(argc > 0);

checks if argc > 0. If the assertion fails, a diagnostic message is displayed. The error message points to the location in your program of the failed assertion. Whenever you have specific assumptions about the state of (your variables in) your program, it is a good idea to add an assertion.

The examples shown in this document are all in C. But it is not required to use C for your assignments and you may use C++ constructs if you wish. Note that the C examples use the following functions that are rarely used in C++:

char *fgets(char *str, int size, FILE *stream)
int printf(const char *format, ...)
int fprintf(FILE *stream, const char *format) 

You should consult the manual pages to understand these library functions. The stdin, stdout, and stderr streams are frequently used with these functions.
Task 1 - Adding Built-in Commands

Create a new file shell.c (or shell.cpp if you prefer C++). This will be our main shell program that will execute commands from a command line. Our shell should intepret the following built-in commands:

cd: changes the current working directory
pwd: prints the current working directory
echo: prints a message and the values of environment variables
exit: terminates the shell
env: prints the current values of the environment variables
setenv: sets an environment variable 

For example:

1> echo hello world
hello world
2> cd test
3> pwd
3> setenv greeting hello
4> echo $greeting $OSTYPE
hello linux
5> env
6> exit

To implement the first task we will use the parser.c program as an example. This program includes a routine tokenize to split up a command line into an array of strings (tokens), We need this array to match and interpret the command (first array element) and its arguments (the rest of the array).

Add the main routine, the tokenize, and interpret functions to your shell.c program. The intepret function must be extended to implement the built-in commands. Here are some helpful hints:

To implement $var variables, change the tokenize function to check for strings that start with a '$'. When a string starts with a '$', use getenv to obtain the variable value and place it in the argument array. In this way, variables can be used with all commands, for example echo, cd, and setenv.
To implement echo, write a loop that runs over the command arguments to print the string values.
To implement env, you need to access to the global environment variables array. To this end, add the following declaration to your code: extern char **environ; (see manual pages for environ) For example, environ[0] contains the first variable name=value pair, environ[1] contains the second pair, and so on until you hit a terminating NULL string.
To implement setenv, use the setenv function with overwrite=1. You may assume that the assigned value is a single string token (i.e. the first argument is the variable name and the second argument is the value). 

After testing your code, you can advance to task 2. You don't need to submit your code at this point. Just make sure it works before you continue with task 2 by testing the example input above (we will test your code with different input).
Task 2 - Adding Processes

In this part of the assignment we will extend our shell program with process forking. The shell takes a command, checks if it is not a built-in command, forks a process, loads the program from the file system, passes the arguments, and executes it. The shell must wait for the child process to terminate and report any errors that might have occurred.

To implement process forking we will use the process.c program as an example. This program takes a command as an argument and executes it by forking a process.

For example:

engelen% gcc -Wall -o process process.c
engelen% ./process ls
Doxyfile html/ parser.c process process.c
engelen% ./process ls process.c
engelen% ./process ./process ls
Doxyfile html/ parser.c process process.c

Implement process forking in your shell.c program. Your shell program must be able to execute built-in commands and run executables from the command line.

For example:

1> ls
Doxyfile html/ parser.c process process.c
2> cp parser.c test.c
3> ls
Doxyfile html/ parser.c process process.c test.c
4> abc
execvp() failed: No such file or directory
An error occurred.
5> exit

Task 3 - Adding Background Processes

Processes can be run on the background by appending a '&' at the end of a command line.

For example:

1> xterm &

This starts an xterm window and the shell returns immediately to prompt for more input. Implement background processes by checking (and removing) a '&' at the end of the command line.
Task 4 - Signal Handling

Our current shell implementation has a significant drawback: when we want to terminate a foreground process by depressing ctrl-C, the shell will quit as well. To prevent the shell from quitting, we need a signal handler to catch SIGINT (ctrl-C). Consult the manual page of signal and the textbook page 123 to implement this feature.

For example:

1> top (type ctrl-C)

When depressing ctrl-C, the shell should return to the prompt.
Task 5 - Extra Credit

You can earn extra credit (5%) for this assignment by implementing a timer that terminates a foreground process after 10 seconds have elapsed and the process has not completed. You should only terminate foreground processes that exceed the alloted time limit. To terminate a process, you can use int kill(pid_t, int sig). If the process completes before the timer expires, the shell should immediately return with the prompt.

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Another one who wants his homework done? Read the community rules! You have to start by yourself, give us code, we'll help you if you have any problem then...

BTW, are you sure this forum is the right place to post this? Confused.

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