Programming language: C
License: MIT License
Tags: Scripting    
Latest version: v1.2

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This is ctypes.sh, a foreign function interface for bash.

ctypes.sh is a bash plugin that provides a foreign function interface directly in your shell. In other words, it allows you to call routines in shared libraries from within bash.

A (very) simple example will help illustrate:

$ dlcall puts "hello, world"
hello, world

# A more complex example, use libm to calculate sin(PI/2)
$ dlopen libm.so.6
$ dlcall -r double sin double:1.57079632679489661923

ctypes.sh can extend bash scripts to accomplish tasks that were previously impossible, or would require external helpers to be written.

ctypes.sh makes it possible to use GTK+ natively in your shell scripts, or write a high-performance http daemon.

See more examples here


ctypes.sh is dependent on the following libraries and programs:

  • libffi
  • bash
  • libelf (optional)
  • elfutils (optional)
  • libdwarf / libdw (optional)


For recent Fedora, this should be enough:

sudo yum install elfutils-devel dnf-utils

Now you can use the debuginfo-install command to install debugging symbols for automatic structure support.


For recent Ubuntu, this should be enough:

sudo apt install autoconf libltdl-dev libffi-dev libelf-dev elfutils libdw-dev

If you want to use automatic struct support (recommended), you should also make you have ddebs available.


ctypes.sh can be installed from source like this:

$ git clone https://github.com/taviso/ctypes.sh.git
$ cd ctypes.sh
$ ./autogen.sh
$ ./configure
$ make
$ [sudo] make install

By default ctypes.sh is installed into /usr/local/bin and /usr/local/lib. You can overload the prefix path by defining the PREFIX environment variable before installing.

$ PREFIX=$HOME make install


source ctypes.sh
puts () {
  dlcall puts "[email protected]"
  return $?

puts "hello, world"

Here is what people have been saying about ctypes.sh:

  • "that's disgusting"
  • "this has got to stop"
  • "you've gone too far with this"
  • "is this a joke?"
  • "I never knew the c could stand for Cthulhu."

You can read more about ctypes.sh and see it in action on the Wiki