4 Best Fixes for “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” in Linux

TL;DR

To fix the “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error in Linux, try the following solutions:

  1. Review for syntax errors and typos in the script files with a text editor like Nano and correct any errors if found.
  2. Run the ls -l command to view the file permissions in long format and modify the permissions with the chmod +x command if necessary.
  3. Use the echo $0 command to check the shell version, switch to a compatible shell with chsh -s, and reboot the system to apply changes.
  4. You can also use visual aids like debuggers to trace the error in your script files.
  5. Lastly, you can use popular third-party tools, like ShellCheck, Vim, and Sublime Text, to help troubleshoot the ‘newline’ error.

Best practices for avoiding similar errors in the future include double-checking syntax and spelling, using compatible shell versions, checking file permissions, using debuggers or other tools, using source control, documenting changes, and testing scripts and commands thoroughly.

Keep reading to find out more about how to fix the “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error in Linux with our comprehensive guide below.

The “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error can occur when running a shell script or command in Linux. It is caused by a variety of factors, including syntax errors, incorrect file permissions, incompatible shell versions, and more. Understanding and resolving this error is important for any Linux user, and in this article, I will provide a comprehensive guide to help you do just that.

How to Fix “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” in Linux

To fix the “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error in Linux, you should check for syntax errors and typos, file permissions, and shell compatibility. If the error persists, you can use visual aids or third-party tools. Let’s explore each method in detail here.

1. Check for Syntax Errors and Typos

The first step in fixing the “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error is to check for syntax errors and typos in a text editor. To review the command or script you are trying to execute, you should:

  1. Use the following command in the Terminal app to open the script file in the Nano editor:
nano script.sh
  1. This command either opens or creates a shell script file called script.sh using the lightweight text editor Nano in the Terminal.
open script file in nano editor
  1. Now, in the Nano editor, review the script for syntax errors and typos.
syntax error near unexpected token 'newline'
  1. Correct any errors you find and save the file by pressing Ctrl + O followed by Ctrl + X.
correct any errors you find and save file

Make sure that your script is executable using the chmod +x command with the script’s filename.

2. Check File Permissions

If the “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error persists after checking for syntax errors and typos, the next step is to check the file permissions. Ensure that the file has the correct permissions to be executed. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Run the following command in the Terminal app to check the file permissions:
ls -l script.sh
  1. Check the file permissions in a long format. Look for any issues with the permissions, such as the file being read-only or not executable.
Check the file permissions
  1. If necessary, use the following command to modify the permissions:
chmod +x script.sh

3. Check for Incompatible Shell Versions

Sometimes, the “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error may be caused by incompatible shell versions. If that’s the case, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Check the shell version you’re using by running the following command:
echo $0
  1. Ensure that the version you’re using is compatible with the script or command you’re running.
check compatibility of shell version
  1. If not, switch to a compatible shell version. To change the shell version, use the following command:
chsh -s /bin/zsh
  1. Once you’ve switched to a compatible shell, reboot your system with the following command:
sudo reboot
  1. Now, try running the script or command again to see if the error has been resolved.

4. Use Visual Aids to Trace this Error 

If you’re still experiencing the “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error after checking for syntax errors, file permissions, and shell compatibility, consider using visual aids to troubleshoot. This can include using debuggers, tracing, or logging to help identify the cause of the error. To use a debugger, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Launch the Terminal app and execute the following command:
bash -x script.sh
  1. This command runs the script in debug mode, displaying each command as it is executed. Use this information to identify the source of the error and make any necessary corrections.
identify source of syntax error near unexpected token 'newline' error

3 Top Third-Party Tools for Linux Syntax Errors

Several third-party tools can help you troubleshoot the “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error in Linux. To test the three popular tools, let’s create a sample script using this code:

#!/bin/bash

for i in {1..5}
do
    echo "Number: $i
done

Just copy-paste the code into a text file using the gedit app or any other text editor in your Linux distro. Alternatively, you can create this script using the Nano editor within the Terminal interface with the nano sample_script.sh command.

sample script using this code to test the four popular tools

Make sure that you have properly saved the script as a file with a .sh extension and that you have set the file permissions to allow execution using the chmod command (e.g. chmod +x sample_script.sh).

Once you’ve created this script with the provided code, you’ll notice that there is a missing closing double-quote in the echo statement. It is done on purpose to cause a syntax error. So, to experience how the following three popular tools handle the syntax errors in the script :

1. ShellCheck

ShellCheck is a powerful, open-source static analysis tool that analyzes shell scripts for syntax errors, common mistakes, and potential issues. It offers detailed suggestions for improving the script’s quality and robustness. ShellCheck supports various shell dialects, including Bash, Dash, and Ksh. Here’s how you can use this tool to check for syntax errors in the script:

  1. Install shellcheck by executing:
sudo apt install shellcheck
  1. Once installed, run the command below to open the script:
shellcheck sample_script.sh
  1. Now, you’ll see the following error report.
shellcheck sample script error report
  1. Once you’ve resolved the syntax error in your code, run the shellcheck and then the script using ./script-name.sh. Your output should look like this:
run the shellcheck and then the script

2. Vim

Vim is a highly configurable and extensible text editor that supports shell scripts and other scripting languages. It offers syntax highlighting, auto-indentation, and various plugins to improve the editing experience. Vim’s command-based interface allows for efficient navigation and editing of code, making it easier to identify and fix syntax errors quickly. To check out this tool for syntax errors in a code, follow these steps:

  1. Execute the code below in the Terminal window to install Vim.
sudo apt-get install vim
  1. Next, open the script using this command line:
vim sample_script.sh
  1. Observe the syntax highlighting indicating the missing closing double-quote.
syntax highlighting indicating the missing closing double quote
  1. You will see the following output in Vim after fixing the syntax error in your code.
output in vim after fixing the syntax error

3. Sublime Text

Sublime Text is a sophisticated text editor for code, markup, and prose that supports shell scripts and other scripting languages. It features a built-in package manager for installing and managing plugins, syntax highlighting, and auto-completion. Sublime Text’s multiple cursors and powerful search capabilities make editing and troubleshooting scripts efficient. Follow the steps below to experience syntax error detection with this tool:

  1. In the Terminal window, enter the Sublime repository key by entering the following command:
wget -qO - https://download.sublimetext.com/sublimehq-pub.gpg | sudo apt-key add -
  1. Add the Sublime repository to the system’s APT sources list with the following command:
echo "deb https://download.sublimetext.com/ apt/stable/" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/sublime-text.list
  1. Update the package list by running:
sudo apt-get update
  1. Now, install Sublime by running the command:
sudo apt-get install sublime-text
  1. Open the sample script using the following command:
subl sample_script.sh
  1. Once the Sublime Text editor opens, observe the syntax highlighting indicating the missing closing double-quote.
sublime text editor opens observe the syntax highlighting
  1. After fixing the syntax error of the code in the Sublime Text editor, you see the following output:
fixing the syntax error of the code in the sublime text editor

7 Best Practices to Avoid Newline Syntax Errors in Linux

To avoid encountering the “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error in the future, it’s essential to follow some best practices. These include:

  • 🔍 Double-check syntax and spelling: Syntax errors often occur due to typos, incorrect syntax, or missing punctuation. Double-checking your commands or scripts before executing them can save you a lot of time and prevent errors from occurring. Consider using a text editor with syntax highlighting to highlight syntax errors before running the command or script.
  • 💻 Use compatible shell versions: Different shell versions may have different syntax, which can lead to unexpected errors. Therefore, it’s crucial to use compatible shell versions when running scripts or executing commands. Check the version of the shell with echo $SHELL --version before running a script or command to avoid errors.
  • 🛠️ Use debuggers or other tools: Debuggers or other tools can help troubleshoot errors by identifying the line of code that causes the error. Some of the commonly used debuggers for shell scripting include Bash Debugger and ShellCheck script analysis tools. These tools can help identify syntax errors and other errors that may cause unexpected errors.
  • 🗃️ Use source control: Implement source control (e.g., Git) to manage script/command changes, track modifications, and revert to previous versions when needed. This can be especially useful if you experience unexpected errors after making changes to a script or command.
  • 🔒 Check file permissions: Sometimes, permissions can cause unexpected errors like “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” in Linux, especially when executing a command or script. So, it’s important to ensure the file has the correct permissions set before executing it. In most cases, scripts or files should have at least read and execute permissions. Use chmod +x script.sh to set the correct permissions.
  • 🧪 Test scripts/commands: Before running a script or executing a command, it’s crucial to test it thoroughly. This can include testing different scenarios and inputs to ensure the script or command works as intended. Moreover, by testing the script or command, you can identify potential errors and fix them before they occur.
  • 📝 Track/document changes: Keep track of script and command modifications by adding comments, maintaining a change log, or creating detailed documentation. This practice will help you in identifying and resolving errors in the future.

Wrap-Up

This guide offers strategies to fix the “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error in Linux caused by syntax errors, incorrect file permissions, and incompatible shell versions. Solutions include reviewing file permissions, checking for syntax errors and typos, examining shell compatibility, utilizing visual aids, and troubleshooting with third-party tools. Additionally, I’ve provided best practices to avoid similar syntax errors in the future.

Learn more about Linux with my latest articles on creating quick access via desktop, renaming Linux files, and debugging the code with set x with a step-by-step tutorial covering all necessary Linux commands, file management, and scripting techniques. By exploring these articles, you’ll surely gain valuable insights and practical advice to enhance your Linux proficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error due to hardware issues?

No, the “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error message or problem encountered is most likely due to issues with the software or scripts that are being run, rather than a hardware issue with the computer or device itself. This could be caused by a coding error, a bug, or other issues related to the program’s functionality.

Why am I seeing this error when running a script?

“syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error may occur if there were recent changes made to the script or the system that it is running on. Check for any updates or modifications that may have caused the error to occur.

Can I use any text editor to modify my script?

Yes, you can use any text editor that supports plain text editing and preserves the original formatting to modify your script. Popular choices include terminal-based editors like nano, vim, and emacs, as well as graphical editors like Notepad++, Sublime Text, Visual Studio Code, and Atom. Just make sure to save your script in the correct format, such as with a .sh extension for shell scripts.

How can I prevent this error from occurring in the future?

To prevent the “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error from occurring in the future, ensure that your scripts and commands are entered correctly, with no missing characters or syntax errors. Also, regularly update your system and scripts to ensure compatibility and prevent issues from arising.

Can I ignore this error and continue running my script?

It’s not recommended to ignore the “syntax error near unexpected token ‘newline'” error, as it can cause issues with the execution of your script and potentially lead to other errors down the line. It’s best to troubleshoot and fix the error as soon as possible to avoid any further complications or abnormal behavior of your code.

What are some other shells that I can use?

Here are some other common shells that you can use on Linux:
-Bash: This is the default shell for most Linux systems and is compatible with many scripts and commands.
-Zsh: This is an advanced shell with many features and customization options but may not be compatible with all scripts and commands.
-Fish: This is a user-friendly shell with syntax highlighting and auto-suggestions but may not be compatible with all scripts and commands.

Total
0
Shares