Learning the bash Shell, 3rd Edition
Unix Shell Programming
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: March 2005
Pages: 354

O'Reilly's bestselling book on Linux's bash shell is at it again. Now that Linux is an established player both as a server and on the desktop Learning the bash Shell has been updated and refreshed to account for all the latest changes. Indeed, this third edition serves as the most valuable guide yet to the bash shell.

As any good programmer knows, the first thing users of the Linux operating system come face to face with is the shell the UNIX term for a user interface to the system. In other words, it's what lets you communicate with the computer via the keyboard and display. Mastering the bash shell might sound fairly simple but it isn't. In truth, there are many complexities that need careful explanation, which is just what Learning the bash Shell provides.

If you are new to shell programming, the book provides an excellent introduction, covering everything from the most basic to the most advanced features. And if you've been writing shell scripts for years, it offers a great way to find out what the new shell offers. Learning the bash Shell is also full of practical examples of shell commands and programs that will make everyday use of Linux that much easier. With this book, programmers will learn:

  • How to install bash as your login shell
  • The basics of interactive shell use, including UNIX file and directory structures, standard I/O, and background jobs
  • Command line editing, history substitution, and key bindings

  • How to customize your shell environment without programming

  • The nuts and bolts of basic shell programming, flow control structures, command-line options and typed variables

  • Process handling, from job control to processes, coroutines and subshells

  • Debugging techniques, such as trace and verbose modes

  • Techniques for implementing system-wide shell customization and features related to system security
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oreillyLearning the bash Shell, 3rd Edition

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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


Excellent guide to bash

By Ifan

from Cambridge, England

About Me Developer

Verified Buyer


  • Easy to understand
  • Helpful examples
  • Well-written


    Best Uses

      Comments about oreilly Learning the bash Shell, 3rd Edition:

      This is a superb book that gives a clear and well thought out introduction to bash. I've had a copy for years and still find it useful for reference.

      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


      Excellent guide!

      By UNX2001

      from Brazil

      About Me Sys Admin

      Verified Reviewer


      • Accurate
      • Easy to understand
      • Helpful examples
      • Well-written


        Best Uses

        • Expert
        • Intermediate
        • Student

        Comments about oreilly Learning the bash Shell, 3rd Edition:

        Very good introduction (and more) to the BASH SHELL !

        (10 of 10 customers found this review helpful)


        a great task oriented introductory/intermediate guide

        By Niu

        from Undisclosed

        Comments about oreilly Learning the bash Shell, 3rd Edition:

        This is a valuable introduction book for the bash shell. The best part of this book for me was all the tasks after each subsection. These tasks are designed to encourage you to think about new commands you just learned. The difficulty level was right-on for me, neither too simple or too hard. These helpful practices are rarely seen in other handbooks. Reading and understanding this book, plus completing the recommended tasks, will get you well on your way to productive bash usage and bash programming.

        One disappointment was that the book is not a complete reference. The book covers most useful materials you need to know but not all. If you want a complete reference to the bash shell, skip this one.

        I highly recommend this book for people in beginning or intermediate level who want to know bash shell.

        (8 of 8 customers found this review helpful)


        Good and Suggestions

        By linux learner

        from Undisclosed

        Comments about oreilly Learning the bash Shell, 3rd Edition:

        This book is a good introduction to the bash shell. It is well written and well-edited.

        As a serious hobbiest programmer of several languages, I was interested in getting deeper

        into the applications of the shell of Linux as an important aspect of learning the overall operating system and gaining the ability to write my own programs both at the GUI level and at the shell or terminal level.

        The shell presents a confusing array of arcane syntaxes and symbols that I found difficult

        to learn. This book helps sort that out. The shell also throws a group of terminal applications at tasks using the likes of sed, awk, and grep that totally confuse the neophyte. The book only slightly makes a dent in this aspect.

        One deficiency is the lack of online sample code that can be downloaded although some typing of your own is always helpful to learning. I went to the 2nd edition site and got what appears to be similar examples.

        I actually would like to see more examples and of a greater variety in the book. Some more advanced but still accessible scripts would be useful in the transition from simple code to real applications. Examples more on the line of the debugger code that is given. What do I mean? Well, how about an installation script for software the user might write including installation options and the use or alternative non-use of rpms. Some tips on shaping the environment and configuration for running your programs. How about some internet access via scripts that use wget perhaps in an automated manner for software updates (I know there are applications that do this already). How about extensive file copying and directory creation similar to moving things around with Conqueror or copying from cd's except from the shell. Obviously, this list goes on and on. The author spent an inordinate amount of time with pushd and popd but not one example using tar which is a bread and butter application.

        It is a good book that can still be improved.

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