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Learning the bash Shell: Unix Shell Programming (In a Nutshell (O'Reilly))
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
The bash shell is now the most common and featureful command shell in the Unix world. It's full capability certainly isn't obvious to a beginner facing a command prompt, but is well worth exploring. This book is a great place for the novice to start. The first chapter addresses the most fundamental question: just what is a command shell?

The ideal reader already knows at least the names of the emacs and vi editors. That much helps understand the many features and two distinct feature sets available for command line editing. I consider fancy command line editing over-rated for fluent typists, but it's there in the second chapter for all who want it and anyone can benefit from at least a little knowledge of it. After that successive chapters pull the reader deeper into the bash feature set: aliases and shell variables, scripting and shell programming, and debugging when the shell programs or functions go awry.

Since this book is aimed at the novice, Newham and Rosenblatt skip lightly over a few of the more advanced subjects. For example, exceptions and trap handling get only cursory treatment, since they get into deep weirdness very fast. The authors are honest about this shallow treatment, though, and give enough information for a novice to recognize the basics and look them up in more advanced references.

This is nicely organized for the self-taught student. As a result, it's not laid out as a programmer's reference manual - anyone who wants that kind of reference just isn't looking at the right book. For its intended reader, though, it's a great book. It gets readers off to a fast start, and lets them decide just how much they want to bite off at a time. I recommned it very highly.

//wiredweird
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Cameron Newham's LEARNING THE BASH SHELL is an introduction to the command-line interface most commonly encountered today in server administration and in the terminal application of personal computers running Linux and Mac OS X. As I write this, the most recent edition is the 3rd, published in 2005, which describes bash 3.0. Newham explains such things as how programs communicate with the shell, keyboard navigation commands and shell customization. While he uses some of the old standard Unix programs (e.g. grep, sort) in examples, this is not a book about how to wield the power of Unix-like systems in general. Also, shell scripting is given only a brief mention, and those wanting to write powerful scripts will have to turn to another book (like O'Reilly's Classic Shell Scripting.

I have been using bash for nearly all file management and system administration tasks since 2002, and I still learned a few things here. However, this book is sorely in need of a new edition. The 3rd edition still assumes that the typical newcomer to bash is on a multi-user UNIX system, has access to a Postscript printer from the command line and a magnetic tape drive, and has probably used another shell like tcsh. Surely, even by the 3rd edition's publication date of 2005, most people interested in bash were people who had installed Linux on their personal computers. Also, bash is now at version 4.0, and readers would benefit from a small presentation of what has changed.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2012
I have been using UNIX for a few years, nothing too in depth, but I can get around. I recently went through the book Learning the UNIX Operating System, Fifth Edition without any trouble and then moved onto the book in question. Starting with the third chapter I felt completely lost and had no idea what the heck the author was talking about. The examples are vague and unhelpful. I kept reading, however, and into the fourth chapter the confusion persisted. Perhaps if the author decided to include some hands-on examples and/or exercises I might understand the concepts better.

I could see this being a worthwhile book if you know how to program already, but if you are just familiar with UNIX navigation, commands, (ie. anything in the Learning the UNIX Operating System, Fifth Edition book) then you might be out of luck.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2014
This book earnestly changed the way I look at my shell, I recommend it to anyone who's not a bash shell veteran. This book is very well written and is paced in such a way that the vast topic of the bash shell can be consumed, understood, and put to use. Highly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2008
I first bought this book over 12 years ago, and I still use it as the standard by which other books are measured. It must be one of my top 5 favorite computer books, ever.

The author clearly understands the material, and makes it approachable, direct, and easy to learn without being too light or condescending. I wish the same could be said of Java books.

"Learning the bash Shell" is the right size and right price, too. Perfect in every way.

O'Reilly kind of took a turn for the worse in the late '90s / early 2000s, but this was originally published back when they were good the first time. (They've since recovered, IMO)

If you have need to learn the bash shell, you can't go wrong with this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2013
I work in so many languages I am ways forgetting syntax and BASH's syntax is a bit unusual. So this book is a reference text for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2008
I have owned this book for awhile, and over the years it has been my only reference to the bash shell I have felt a need for.

The only down points I have seen in this book is that some of the info seems to be seperated out a bit, making some info hard to find at times (although if you have a hard time using an index, well, bash may be a bit advanced for you), but everything is covered well, and the appendixes are fairly good.
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on January 24, 2015
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 author has 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 in my opinion: it's overly hard to follow, mainly for a beginner. A very annoying thing of this example is the fact that the authors names variables, functions and files using Alice in Wonderland: 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 googling to find more.

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 any value.

Suggested book(s):
Linux Shell Scripting Cookbook

As usual, you can find more reviews on my personal blog: http://books.lostinmalloc.com. Feel free to pass by and share your thoughts!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2006
Good chapter on debugging. Good overview of the Bash shell, but I wish it had more examples. For a book with lots of examples, you might want to consider "Bash Shell: Essential Programs for Your Survival at Work" by Larry L. Smith.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
It feels so anachronistic to be learning the bash shell in 2009, but I want to broaden my understanding of Linux and bash is a component part.

For the beginner, like myself, this is an easy introduction. It begins with the purpose and nature of the shell, moves you into basic concepts of using the shell and then takes you into the more complex area of shell programming. Unlike a number of "Learning" books from O'Reilly, this one is very well written for its target audience, which is beginners.

The approach is gradual, in small chunks, with lots of explanation. This is not a reference or tutorial for Linux, per se. It is about the bash shell and the Linux commands encountered are incidental to that goal. (The book, actually, is a survivor of the UNIX era.)

Because of the author's approach, picking up knowledge of the fundamentals of the bash shell is (thankfully) a quick process. The more advanced lessons on scripting are somewhat lost on me because I don't operate in a server environment and, as a result, don't have a real world context for some of the examples. Some of the chapter exercises, however, are quite challenging and will keep me busy for a while.

I am learning Linux and bash out of personal curiosity, so I don't know how much of this newly acquired knowledge I will use on anything resembling a regular basis, but the cool thing is that the book is obviously useful as a reference for those like me who will probably stay close to the beginner level.

Overall, a very nice way to learn the bash shell.

Jerry
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