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Learning the bash Shell, 2nd Edition [Paperback]

Cameron Newham , Bill Rosenblatt
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)


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Technology Books from O'Reilly Media
Brush up on topics from programming to electronics for readers of all levels in the O'Reilly Media bookstore. Browse titles in the animal books, "Missing Manuals," "Head First," series, and more.
There is a newer edition of this item:
Learning the bash Shell: Unix Shell Programming (In a Nutshell (O'Reilly)) Learning the bash Shell: Unix Shell Programming (In a Nutshell (O'Reilly)) 4.2 out of 5 stars (26)
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Book Description

January 23, 1998 1565923472 978-1565923478 2nd

The first thing users of the Linux operating system come face to face with is the shell. "Shell" is the UNIX term for a user interface to the system -- something that lets you communicate with the computer via the keyboard and display. Bash, the Free Software Foundation's "Bourne Again Shell," is the default shell for Linux, the popular free UNIX-like operating system. It's also a replacement for the standard UNIX Bourne shell, which serves both as a user interface and as a programming language. Like the FSF's other tools, bash is more than a mere replacement: it extends the Bourne shell in many ways. Features include command line editing, key bindings, integrated programming features, command completion, control structures (especially the select construct, which enables you to create menus easily), and new ways to customize your environment.

Whether you want to use bash for its user interface or its programming features you will find Learning the bash Shell a valuable guide. The book covers all of bash's features, both for interactive use and programming. If you are new to shell programming, Learning the bash Shell provides an excellent introduction, covering everything from the most basic to the most advanced features, like signal handling and command line processing. If you've been writing shell scripts for years, it offers a great way to find out what the new shell offers. The book is full of examples of shell commands and programs that are designed to be useful in your everyday life as a user, not just to illustrate the feature being explained. All of these examples are freely available to you online on the Internet.

This second edition covers all of the features of bash Version 2.0, while still applying to bash Version 1.x. New features include the addition of one-dimensional arrays, parameter expansion, and more pattern-matching operations. bash 2.0 provides even more conformity with POSIX.2 standards, and in POSIX.2 mode is completely POSIX.2 conformant. This second edition covers several new commands, security improvements, additions to ReadLine, improved configuration and installation, and an additional programming aid, the bash shell debugger.

With this book you'll 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


Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The first thing users of the Linux operating system come face to face with is the shell. "Shell" is the UNIX term for a user interface to the system -- something that lets you communicate with the computer via the keyboard and display. Bash, the Free Software Foundation's "Bourne Again Shell," is the default shell for Linux, the popular free UNIX-like operating system. It's also a replacement for the standard UNIX Bourne shell, which serves both as a user interface and as a programming language. Like the FSF's other tools, bash is more than a mere replacement: it extends the Bourne shell in many ways. New features include command line editing, key bindings, integrated programming features, command completion, control structures (especially the select construct, which enables you to create menus easily) and new ways to customize your environment. Whether you want to use bash for its user interface or its programming features you will find Learning the bash Shell a valuable guide. The book covers all of bash's features, both for interactive use and programming. If you are new to shell programming, Learning the bash Shell provides an excellent introduction, covering everything from the most basic to the most advanced features, like signal handling and command line processing. If you've been writing shell scripts for years, it offers a great way to find out what the new shell offers. The book is full of examples of shell commands and programs that are designed to be useful in your everyday life as a user, not just to illustrate the feature being explained. All of these examples are freely available to you online on the Internet. With this book you'll 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Learning the bash Shell is the definitive guide to bash, the Free Software Foundation's "Bourne Again Shell". It's a freely available replacement for the popular UNIX Bourne shell. It is also the shell of choice for Linux users around the world. You'll find this guide valuable whether you're interested in bash as a user interface or for its powerful programming capabilities. It will teach you how to use bash's advanced command-line features, like command history, command-line editing, and command completion. Learning the bash Shell also introduces shell programming, a skill no UNIX or Linux user should be without. The book demonstrates what you can do with bash's programming features. You'll learn about flow control, signal handling, and command-line processing and I/O. There is also a chapter on debugging your bash programs. Finally, Learning the bash Shell shows you how to get bash, install it, configure it, and customize it. It also gives advice to system administrators managing bash for their user community.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 2nd edition (January 23, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565923472
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565923478
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,070,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
70 of 70 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This O'Reilly Publication does a good job in filling a void for a good introduction to Bash Shell scripting. Bash has become the shell script programming choice for most Unix and Linux shell programmers, because of its strengths over C shell (Csh) and other Unix-based Shell environments as a fairly robust freeware script programming language.
Strengths of the publication are the clear explanations of the bash shell programming environment, the effective use of tables to summarize basic shell language and programming constructs, UNIX-based utilities, shell environment customization, shell Syntax, Bash File Operators and control key definitions.
A chapter is devoted to edit mode capabilities (both eMacs and Vi Command-Line Editing Commands are covered and summarized effectively in clearly doucmented tables).
The book contains a number of terse script programming tasks, which provide clear examples of the material presented in the text. These program examples are reworked to provide a clear example of how Bash scripts can be modified to provide greater flexibility and reusability of Bash shell program code.
I would like to see more robust programming shell examples in the book as examples of mini-applications, which Bash is frequently used for in many Unix-based or Unix-derived platforms. The "Task 5-1" program example is an example where a good example of a program, which does an adequate job of clearly covering the use of Bash File Operators, yet the author(s) make the statement that the code is "relatively long winded".
Another area the book could address is the use of Bash in a Windows environment. I was able to port some of the programming tasks presented to a Windows 95/98 environment using the GNU Bash Version 2.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacking examples September 3, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Learning the Bash Shell, should be not be called a learning book. The lack of real world examples really hurt this book. I found Unix Shells by Example a much better learning tool for the Bash Shell. This was surprising, since other learning books by O'Reilly are considerably better than this one.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good explanations, but lacking decent examples May 1, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is aimmed at beginners, but goes into enough depth to get you truly on your way. It explanations of commands, and concepts are very clear and concise. Also, I like how the authors initially in the book go over and explain commands several times, as this makes remembering the syntax of commands much simplier (for someone with bad memory, like me).
One criticism is the lack of decent examples, when they are given. All the examples seem to be oversimply or non-real-world, and I feel the authors could make concepts clearer by including more examples.
To sum up, this is not a book for you if you learn by trial-and-error and examples, but if you don't mind the lack of decent examples, then this book is a good unix shell programming book.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid coverage of bash fundamentals... March 3, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I just finished this book, and I have to say it was definitely worth the money. The authors do a more than credible job of describing the fundamentals of bash without going too deeply into technical minutiae. Not that they don't present some complex examples! I appreciated the fact that the examples in early chapters were revisited and augmented in later chapters as more complex material was presented. People who prefer thick reference-type compendiums that need not be read in a linear fashion may dislike this, but I found it to be quite helpful.
Particularly illuminating was the image manipulation script they used as an example in several chapters. It really gave me an idea of the power of scripting. Unfortunately, obtaining the source code for the tools the example relied on and compiling them turned out to be a chore; I finally gave up. Still, I had no problem understanding the example even without actually being able to implement it. And there were plenty of other examples that didn't rely on non-standard unix utilities.
If I had to make a single criticism, I'd say that the book could focus a bit more on *interactive* shell use, and why bash is better/worse than other shells in interactive mode. Being a former tcsh user who has developed lots of aliases and programmed completions over time, it would've been helpful to have a section called "Migrating from Csh" or something like that...
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Short on reference material and real world examples. April 11, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book does provide some help for BASH beginners, but lacks reference material and real world examples of BASH Shell programming. Any programming book SHOULD include real world examples OR complete reference material to be considered quality material. This book does NOT make the grade
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommend highly!!! March 22, 2003
Format:Paperback
This book is an excellent resource for Linux-literate individuals. I use it to tutor students and adults on Bash shell programming. For beginners, it may be too difficult, but the people with hands-on experience will appreciate its content of the each chapter. It lacks real-world examples but with imagination and creativity, you can easily drum up a number of viable samples. This book is not for people who need to be spoon-fed.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good intro to bash shell September 18, 2000
Format:Paperback
This is a good place to start if you are looking into using the bash shell (unix). The book provides clear cut explanations of all of the commands present in the bash shell. The lack of examples is tolerable, though a little annoying when thoes ever-present half-understandings pop up and a quick example would clear it right up. Making up your own and testing it out works though.
Unfortunately the shell scripting/programming part has been rendered rather useless by the up and rising use of perl for shell scripting. The sections still cover it, but most people scripting for unix shells are using perl because of its simplicity and power.
Overall this is a great book to teach yourself the basics of the bash command line interface in unix, probably the best bash book out there.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on Bash!
Anything I've purchased by O'Reilly is the best stuff on Unix and Unix tools! This book helped me write a bash script that is being used by hundreds where I work.
Published 12 months ago by LoriSaysHey
5.0 out of 5 stars It was in great shape and cheap
The book was in great shape and couldn't beat the price Cheap.
GOOD GOOD GOOD GOOD GOOD GOOD GOOD GOOD
Published 19 months ago by David M Gingras
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction and reference resource
This is a useful introduction to the Bash shell used in unix, linux, and other *nix type operating systems. Read more
Published on October 1, 2005 by M. Helmke
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential linux skills.
This book (2nd. ed.) shows how bash shell programming exploits special capabilities of linux and unix. Shell programming manages other, more specialized, programs. Read more
Published on July 22, 2005 by Richard J. Engebretson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Shell script book
The best book I have ever read on the subject.

The only think I could think to complain about is that

sometimes it was a little hard to follow. Read more
Published on April 8, 2005 by Ronald Tieder
2.0 out of 5 stars Most disappointing O'Reilly book I've bought
The authors spend so much space on extended examples that they make the basics difficult to find. The odd appearance of conditionals is, for instance, the most surprising thing... Read more
Published on October 17, 2004 by Flash Sheridan
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book, but could be better
I like this book a lot. It covers all you need to know to fell comfortable with bash shell. However I find the explanation confusing, sometimes I had to read the same paragraph... Read more
Published on April 6, 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Place to Start
Good starter for those taking their first steps in unix shell scripting. The book is easy to read, with examples that are easy to follow. Read more
Published on July 14, 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Can't Live Without It
O'Reilly has become the de facto for techie books. They are immensely helpful when you just want to dig your feet in and get hardcore with coding. They make for easy reads. Read more
Published on September 2, 2002 by J. L. Shipp
4.0 out of 5 stars If you're byuing only one book on BASH, buy this one
A very good introductory BASH book. The different features of BASH are covered in great detail. Beginners will definitely like the in-depth discussion and examples. Read more
Published on June 9, 2002
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