Bash: store the return value and/or output of a command in a variable

depends on whether you want to store the command’s output (either stdout, or stdout + stderr) or its exit status (0 to 255, with 0 typically meaning “success”).

If you want to capture the output, you use command substitution:

    output=$(command)      # stdout only; stderr remains uncaptured
    output=$(command 2>&1) # both stdout and stderr will be captured

If you want the exit status, you use the special parameter $? after running the command:

    command
    status=$?

If you want both:

    output=$(command)
    status=$?

The assignment to output has no effect on command‘s exit status, which is still in $?.

If you don’t actually want to store the exit status, but simply want to take an action upon success or failure, just use if:

    if command; then
        echo "it succeeded"
    else
        echo "it failed"
    fi

Or if you want to capture stdout as well as taking action on success/failure, without explicitly storing or checking $?:

    if output=$(command); then
        echo "it succeeded"
    ...