parset - set shell variables in parallel


parset variablename [options for GNU Parallel]


parset is a shell function that puts the output from GNU parallel into shell variables.

The parset function is defined as part of env_parallel.

If variablename is a single variable name, this will be treated as the destination variable and made into an array.

If variablename contains multiple names separated by ',' or space, the names will be the destination variables.

The last bug in parset was discovered 2017-06-29, so the code is ready for being tested widely. Please use it for everyday use and report bugs.


Same as GNU parallel, but they are put after the destination variable.




Put output into myarray:

  parset myarray seq 3 ::: 4 5 6
  echo "${myarray[1]}"

Put output into vars $seq, $pwd, $ls:

  parset "seq pwd ls" ::: "seq 10" pwd ls
  echo "$ls"

Put output into vars $seq, $pwd, $ls:

  into_vars=(seq pwd ls)
  parset "${into_vars[*]}" ::: "seq 10" pwd ls
  echo "$ls"

The commands to run can be an array:

  cmd=("echo '<<joe  \"double  space\"  cartoon>>'" "pwd")
  parset data ::: "${cmd[@]}"
  echo "${data[0]}"
  echo "${data[1]}"

parset can not be part of a pipe. In particular this means it cannot read anything from standard input (stdin) or write to a pipe:

  seq 10 | parset res echo Does not work

but must instead use a tempfile:

  seq 10 > parallel_input
  parset res echo :::: parallel_input
  echo "${res[0]}"
  echo "${res[9]}"

or a FIFO:

  mkfifo input_fifo
  seq 30 > input_fifo &
  parset res echo :::: input_fifo
  echo "${res[0]}"
  echo "${res[29]}"

or Bash process substitution:

  parset res echo :::: <(seq 100)
  echo "${res[0]}"
  echo "${res[99]}"


Put this in $HOME/.bashrc:

  . `which env_parallel.bash`

E.g. by doing:

  echo '. `which env_parallel.bash`' >> $HOME/.bashrc


Same as GNU parallel.


When using GNU parallel for a publication please cite:

O. Tange (2011): GNU Parallel - The Command-Line Power Tool, ;login: The USENIX Magazine, February 2011:42-47.

This helps funding further development; and it won't cost you a cent. If you pay 10000 EUR you should feel free to use GNU Parallel without citing.

Copyright (C) 2007-10-18 Ole Tange,

Copyright (C) 2008,2009,2010 Ole Tange,

Copyright (C) 2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017 Ole Tange, and Free Software Foundation, Inc.


Copyright (C) 2016 Ole Tange and Free Software Foundation, Inc.

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 3 of the License, or at your option any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see <>.

Documentation license I

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this documentation under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the file fdl.txt.

Documentation license II

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to Share

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Under the following conditions:


You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

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With the understanding that:


Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.

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Where the work or any of its elements is in the public domain under applicable law, that status is in no way affected by the license.

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parset uses GNU parallel.


parallel(1), env_parallel(1), bash(1).