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on 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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on 26 June 2007
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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on 1 August 2008
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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on 13 October 2010
It does what it says on the tin, not a bad book to circumnavigate and it will help both those new to the field as well as older hacks who just want to improve their scripting or start using additional functions that up to now they were either ignorant of or didn't know the best way to code it into their shell scripts. It will never beat hands on experience and disseminating working scripts as a learning tool in this trade (which is how I originally learned to script) but otherwise is a great handbook.
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on 20 March 2006
I like easy to read book and I also had assumed that learning UNIX is not necessarily has to be a struggle. This book stood up to my expectations almost perfectly: it is very well written and clearly expressed work. It does not overwhelm with technical details and does not press too much. I also followed an advise in someone review and purchased "UNIX Essentials" DVD that is complete unix course recorded (I found on Amazon.com but since they do not ship outside US I ordered it directly from CustomFlix.com). These two nicely complement one another. You watch it and you read it. If you didn't catch it from the first try you watch it again and read it again. In two months I found myself confident to that extend that gave advises to our system administrator and he accepted them because there were subjects that he wasn't completely sure. What I can say, in three month I passed my first interview and got a job! Sure it is a way to start there much of more advanced reading that will take over you with a time however these two provide you with the BASIS!
I can't overstate how much I have learned from them. Don't be naive, though. You will have to learn and memorize many things. The fact of owning neither book nor DVD will not make you knowledgeable, but if you will work it trough, there is a chance you will surprise many people around!
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on 16 September 2005
This is a great book. I found the writing clear and precise and as a general introduction to all things Unix and Linux invaluable. The aim as stated by the authors is to be able to write clear, secure, cross platform scripts for any Unix system.
I would also recommend that as a starting point for any new Linux user just getting beyond the X interface into the shell. I wish I had this when I started on Linux.
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on 10 March 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. The closer you are to being a genius the easier it will be for you.

It also uses some careless language which confuses things. For example, if the Format is followed by the String, it is confusing to refer to the Format as the format string, even though it is one, because it could mean the string OF the format, the string that is WITH the format or the pair as a whole.

This can leave you 'trying this or that' to see what works, which of course is disasterous in an environment such as the shell where so many gotchas exist.

Not for begginers.

Also, note that one other reviewer suggests you consider whether the Shell is the best tool for your job. eg Perl
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on 1 May 2012
This is the second time I purchased this book. I had to purchase it twice because it is a must have for any Unix/ Linux Administrator, Developer or Network engineer. If you don't have it i recommend you buy it!!!
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on 25 April 2014
This is a complete guide to make you scripts! Recomend that! Help me to struct my script and make better choice for implementation.
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on 12 December 2015
Arrived quickly, just what I needed
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