Learning the bash Shell, 3rd Edition
Unix Shell Programming
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: 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
 
3.8

(based on 6 reviews)

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  • 4 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 3 Stars

     

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2.0

A bitter sweet introduction to the bash shell

By Jascha

from Barcelona

Verified Reviewer

Pros

    Cons

    • Too basic

    Best Uses

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

      I've told myself to get a book about bash so many times in the past that my Goodread's Want to Read shelf was getting boringly monothematic. Last month I planned to get my hands on bash Cookbook but a comment on Amazon convinced me to dedicate my time to this title instead. To make it short, I'm not exactly enthusiast: some (just some!) parts were interesting; others (most!) were overly detailed and accompanied with complicated examples, a pain to get through.

      This is a book that clearly targets beginners, people with close to no experience with Linux and the bash shell. If you work on a daily basis with the penguin, you better move along.

      Ok so, let's imagine I recently moved from Windows to Linux and I want to explore what the bash shell offers me. What do I get off these 300 pages? Well, the book is divided in 3 parts:

      Very basic shell features.
      Basic shell scripting.
      Basic shell features.

      The first part, which covers the first three chapters, tells you about basic commands, such as "ls" and all the arguments it swallows. Unless you have never opened the terminal before, you might want to skip these pages.

      Next the authors introduce some basic shell scripting, starting from variable naming to arrays and flow control. This was, by far, the most interesting part of the whole book in my opinion, but still, the authors have covered only the very basics. What I've found particularly annoying was the choice to list all the possible options available just to find out, later, that the book wasn't about system programming so that they would have not been explained.

      Finally, we leave the magic world of scripting and get introduced to other basic features, such as jobs: background foreground, handling signals.

      Throughout the book the authors use an example that gets improved as they introduce new concepts. This gets early out of control: it's hard to follow, mainly for a beginner. A very annoying thing is the choice of the authors to name variables, functions and files using Alice in Wonderland characters: Alice, the Hatter, … for real?

      Other examples are found in the book. They are short ad hoc code snippets found next to some command just explained. I've often ended up either using man or Google to find more comprehensive ones.

      I don't really suggest the title, neither to those new to the bash shell, nor to those that are merely interested in scripting. This book covers a little of both, but doesn't really give the reader any value.

      Suggested readings:
      Ubuntu Linux Toolbox: a cookbook that covers the best commands to take control of Linux through the terminal. For power users, not system administrators.
      Linux Shell Scripting Cookbook: a similar book, which mainly targets system administrators.
      How Linux Works: a title dedicated to the internals of Linux. A must have for anyone interested in understanding how the system works.

      As usual, you can find more reviews on my personal blog: http://books.lostinmalloc.com Feel free to pass by and share your thoughts!

       
      2.0

      dissapointed

      By jlc280z

      from RTP NC

      About Me Developer

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

        Cons

        • Basic Examples
        • Not comprehensive enough

        Best Uses

        • Intermediate

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

        Covered some obscure topics in depth, but didn't cover the basics very well. Needed help with bash scripts at work, and they were using techniques that he didn't come close to explaining. Needs to provide much better example code in depth.
        waste of money!

        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Excellent guide to bash

        By Ifan

        from Cambridge, England

        About Me Developer

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Easy to understand
        • Helpful examples
        • Well-written

        Cons

          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)

             
            5.0

            Excellent guide!

            By UNX2001

            from Brazil

            About Me Sys Admin

            Verified Reviewer

            Pros

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

            Cons

              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)

               
              5.0

              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 9 customers found this review helpful)

               
              4.0

              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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