Durable Shell History

Loren (mcint) January 29, 2023 [Terminal] #cli #bash #config #history

I agree with JeffK's premise in logging shell history.

I've explored a few approaches, and find that I care about locality with better granularity than just time (and host, and working directory).

I like to log shell processes separately. It was almost bearable to have shells dump their history atomicly to a shared log, and I used things like .bash_logout, or reached for trap EXIT ... to assure this.

However, I've learned over time that I prefer to have files written, in case of a crash, and that I prefer to use unique HISTFILE names, instead of allowing a shell without my custom initialization to start and truncate my carefully grown history.

# ~/.bash_history_rc -> .config/shell/history
export HISTSIZE=-1  # 0->no writes, neg/alpha-> write all
export HISTFILE=~/.data/bash/history.$(date +%FT%T).$$.log
export HISTIGNORE+=":d"

I load the history file through ~/.config/shell/

# ~/.profile
  arg="$(realpath "$arg")"
  if [ -f "$arg" ]; then
    . "$arg"
  elif [ -d "$arg" ]; then
    debug "${FUNCNAME[0]}: no file '$1'"

src "$HOME/.cargo/env"
for f in ~/.shell/*; do
  src "$f";

This history file is currently loaded from the ~/.config/shell/ path, but I keep .bash_history_rc in the home directory as a form of near, external-memeory. I can tab complete it at a glance and

While I'm at this, I'll write about other shell config ergonomics