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Classic Shell Scripting: Hidden Commands that Unlock the Power of Unix [Kindle Edition]

Arnold Robbins , Nelson H. F. Beebe
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Shell scripting skills never go out of style. It's the shell that unlocks the real potential of Unix. Shell scripting is essential for Unix users and system administrators-a way to quickly harness and customize the full power of any Unix system. With shell scripts, you can combine the fundamental Unix text and file processing commands to crunch data and automate repetitive tasks. But beneath this simple promise lies a treacherous ocean of variations in Unix commands and standards. Classic Shell Scripting is written to help you reliably navigate these tricky waters.Writing shell scripts requires more than just a knowledge of the shell language, it also requires familiarity with the individual Unix programs: why each one is there, how to use them by themselves, and in combination with the other programs. The authors are intimately familiar with the tips and tricks that can be used to create excellent scripts, as well as the traps that can make your best effort a bad shell script. With Classic Shell Scripting you'll avoid hours of wasted effort. You'll learn not only write useful shell scripts, but how to do it properly and portably.The ability to program and customize the shell quickly, reliably, and portably to get the best out of any individual system is an important skill for anyone operating and maintaining Unix or Linux systems. Classic Shell Scripting gives you everything you need to master these essential skills.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent guide to the POSIX shell 9 April 2007
This is a very good introduction to the POSIX shell, as used on various Unix and Linux operating systems. The book covers the basics of how a shell works, how it can be used to write scripts and the standard Unix tool-kit that can be used to do powerful things quickly and easily.

The book is grounded in POSIX tools so does not take advantage of features present in the very latest Bash, Korn and Z shells, but it does mention that sometimes if you are willing to trade portability you can do things easier and quicker.

The book does not require a deep understanding of the Unix philosophy, but it does help to have used the basic Unix/Linux tools in the past. As well as shell, the book covers the standard tool-kit such as cut, head, tail, grep, sed and a large chunk of awk.

The book is well written and organised, and there are plenty of code snippets and explanations to keep you going. The book does not really cover the interactive use of shell, it really is all about scripting with shell as the title suggests.

If I have one problem with the book it is that there is an almost pathological avoidance of the dynamic languages such as Perl, Python and Ruby. Some of the longer shell examples would have been much better written in a more complete language such as Perl which are better suited to the larger tasks that shell is not designed for.

Combined with a good introductory books such as "Learning the Bash Shell" or "Learning the Korn Shell" you are well on the way to driving a Unix/Linux system without a mouse!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is well paced and written. The authors manage to write in a very approachable way without missing any of the essential, and without patronising the reader.

The title may mislead some into thinking that this book covers only scripting or is not suitable for starting to learn the *NIX shells. Nothing could be further from the truth. Taking the reader through the classic tools of unix, the authors then show how to bring those tools together and how to build continually more complex programs.

Also appreciated are the examples throughout the book. These examples, unlike some similar titles, are there in just the right amount. You don't feel swamped by pages and pages of code, nor lost with nothing to demonstrate what is being said. The examples are always relevant, allowing you to learn important principles and start writing your own code.

Overall, even if advanced users might not benefit as much from this book, it is still highly recommended read for anybody interested in using the power of the unix shell, either totally new users to the command line, or seasoned users with more experience. And surprisingly, This book remains accessible to both.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you're like me then you've bought a few UNIX books and are none the wiser as you seem to be on the outside looking in at some 6th-form science club. You are, however , 'in IT' and have to get to understand shell-scripting rather than just copy other peoples code. Get this book. It's normal !! It achieves twin aims of covering the subject in depth and being easy to understand. It covers shell scripting very well ( all the curly brackets stuff as well as some very simple , but extremely useful , sed and awk code); it also covers all the usual UNIX stuff - it is entirely self contained. 'UNIX shell commands plus scripting' would be a better , if less snappy , title. I don't usually 'do' reviews - this is , however, a deserved exception.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Shell Crypting 10 Mar. 2011
This book closely resembles the Shell: Consistent, non-intuative, quirky, arcane, not self-explanatory.

It regulary gives examples which use elements it has not yet explained. This would be ok if the unknown element were clearly seperate from the known elements in the example, because you can just keep the unknown bit on hold for later. Of course using known elements would be clearer still, but not always possible.

The trouble is that in Shell scripting a tiny change in the syntax alters the whole way the command is interpreted. This means that you can't be sure if the unknown element is part of the thing being explained or not. eg Are those \'s part of the command being explained, part of the unknown element, or there to cover some quirt of the Shell that this particular example has uncovered. The book regulary does not explain which, and leaves you with singular examples rather than broader understanding.

The book describes the Shell from the point of view of someone who really understands the Shell; that sounds good doesn't it? But if you are from outside you really need it explained from the point of view of someone who understands the Shell and where YOU are coming from. Otherwise it is like talking to an expert rather than a teacher.

For example:

IF (condition) THEN (commands);

sounds easy enough,eh?

But what is the sytax for the conditions?

The syntax is never explained, and for a very good reason. I'm not going to try to tell you why, because I'm reviewing the book not the Shell, but I think the book should tell you why the conditions have no syntax. If it did you would quickly move forward, but it leaves you to spot all the complex implications of some very terse statements for yourself.
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