Make /bin/sh configurable with update-alternatives

Bug #71887 reported by Fridtjof Busse on 2006-11-15
This bug affects 3 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
dash (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Binary package hint: dash

The choice to make /bin/dash the shell for /bin/sh causes quite a few problems: The ATI-driver fails to build (#68635), Parallels won't configure and VMware is not that happy either, as they use stuff in their scripts that dash doesn't support. I bet there are quite a few other applications that have problems with this switch (especially as Ubuntu is the inly distro I know that uses dash by default).

If you really want to keep dash as the default-shell, please make it configurable via update-alternatives, so that I can easily switch back to bash.

Alex Sutcliffe (alex.sutcliffe) wrote :

For what it's worth, I'm surprised /bin/sh isn't handled by update-alternatives. It's possible to change whether dash is the default via dpkg-reconfigure however.

OK, yet another thing that breaks horribly with dash being the default-shell: XEN precompiled packages.
It took me ages to find out that dash was the reason things broke that bad.
IMO it is a really bad idea to switch the default shell to dash by default. I have no problem with the possibility to set it to dash (dpkg-reconfigure works, but update-alternatives would be more intuitive).

mannheim (kronheim) wrote :

Some other software that breaks:

 -- Mathematica
 -- NX Server

This is what nxserver does with dash:

user@machine:~$ sudo /etc/init.d/nxserver stop
/etc/init.d/nxserver: 21: Syntax error: "(" unexpected

I really feel it is unfair to users not to give them an informed choice. For sure, it can be said that the bugs here lie with Mathematica and nxserver, not ubuntu, but the real-world environment of Ubuntu's users should be considered first.

t3rmin4t0r (gopalv82) wrote :

sudo update-alternatives --install /bin/sh sh /bin/dash 1
sudo update-alternatives --install /bin/sh sh /bin/bash 1

sudo update-alternatives --config sh


Micah Cowan (micahcowan) wrote :

Please don't use the bug tracking system to gripe about developer decisions, it is not the proper forum.

Changed in dash:
importance: Undecided → Low
status: Unconfirmed → Confirmed
comotion (comotion) wrote :

A developer decision may also be a bug. Regardless, the issue should certainly be taken to the devel-discuss mailing list.

I have opened a new bug for the wider set of dash incompatabilites at

Is this still necessary, or is the manual method to do this that t3rmin4t0r proposed good enough?

Changed in dash:
status: Confirmed → Incomplete

t3rmin4t0r proposed what should be the default: Make /bin/sh configurable by update-alternatives without manual intervention.
So no, the manual method is not good enough, if there's more than one program to do the job, you have to be able to configure it with update-alternatives out of the box.
Haven't checked if it's fixed in jaunty already, but I doubt it.

Bryan McLellan (btm) wrote :

running 'sudo dpkg-reconfigure dash', and answering no to using dash as sh, as outlined in [1] is the simplest method.


Thank you for reporting this bug.

Does this issue occur in Lucid?

/bin/sh is not managed by update-alternatives but a symlink to dash

Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

[Expired for dash (Ubuntu) because there has been no activity for 60 days.]

Changed in dash (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → Expired
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