on 5 August 2013
This book introduces the bash shell and many of the linux utilities that can be run from the bash prompt. I would regard the book as a supplement to the manuals for bash and the utilities. These manuals are available on the web and contain comprehensive details of the syntax of bash commands/utilities and of various options available. These manuals contain so much detail that a less experienced user will be unable to understand what is important or what can be done because he has been overloaded with detail.
This book is a solution to this overload problem. It
* provides an often simplified introduction to the bash shell and to individual bash commands and utilities and
* poses a series of practical problems and provides recipes (bash scripts which combine bash commands and utilities) which solve these problems.
A recipe on page 210 provides an illustration of this process. It is a bash script using various bash commands and lynx and cURL utilities to check a web site for broken links. I had an immediate use for this script and it solved my problem. Until I had read this book I would not have considered using the bash shell to solve some of these problems. The book has definitely increased my understanding of the bash shell.
The recipes are presented in Chapters which cover 1. Introduction, 2. Commonly used Commands, 3. Managing Files, 4. Working with text files, 5. Managing the web from the Command line (I found this a most interesting section and the overviews of wget and cURL are good), 6. Backup facilities, 7. Networking, 8. Monitoring the use of the system and 9. Administration. A user like myself will probably not need all of this material. Most of the recipes in the book are stand alone to the extent that one may only need to read material local to the recipe to understand it. Thus one can pick and choose what you need and retain the book for future reference. If you need to amend a script to suit your own needs you will find the official manuals more readable after you have read the book. At least you will be better equipped to find what you need in the manuals.
While the main emphasis of the book is on Linux shell scripting I have used some of these facilities with MS Windows systems using cygwin ([...] which provide a Linux look and feel environment for Windows.
I usually use the command line to install and update packages. Some account of these procedures might have been included. There is an idea running through the book that the problems tackled are better solved using the command line. Perhaps the authors think that a graphical package management system is best. Perhaps they wished to keep the book more compact.
I consider the book as a valuable complement to the official manuals and it would have been useful to have included more information on using the manuals, the help system and the man command.
Any of the recipes that I have tried worked well. The support material contains script files that do not have the execute permission set. (Changing permissions is not covered until page 115!).
To summarize I found this book useful and can recommend it highly as a supplement to the official manual to beginning and intermediate users of bash.