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Shell Scripting Recipes: A Problem-Solution Approach (Expert's Voice in Open Source) Paperback – May 8, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-1590594711 ISBN-10: 1590594711 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Expert's Voice in Open Source
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 1 edition (May 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590594711
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590594711
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,402,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Chris F.A. Johnson was introduced to Unix in 1990, and learned shell scripting because there was no C compiler on the system. His first major project was a menu-driven, user-extensible database system with report generator. Johnson constantly writes scripts to automate system administration tasks, and his recent shell projects have included a member database, menuing system, and POP3 mail filtering and retrieval. When not pushing shell scripting to the limit, Johnson teaches chess and composes cryptic crosswords.

More About the Author

After almost 20 years in magazine and newspaper publishing, variously as writer, editor, graphic designer and production manager, I now earn my living composing cryptic crossword puzzles, teaching chess, designing web sites and Unix system administration and programming.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
I really liked the focused nature of the material and writing.
Thomas Duff
This book would be ideal for anyone who wants to get more out of their system that just using the GUI-interface that has become so common.
Robert Stinnett
Advanced and powerful, a real resource for the power user of the Bourne shell, Shell Scripting Recipes is highly recommended.
Harold McFarland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Raymond Brigleb on October 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book was kind of an epiphany for me. I've been writing shell scripts for nearly as long as I've been writing programs, but I've always drawn a mental distinction between the two. There was programming, and then there was scripting.

After coding in languages like Perl and then Ruby, the distinction has become increasingly blurred. Many of my "scripts" have proven far, far more useful than anything I've written in a "proper" programming language! They back up my servers, they keep me informed of problems, they've saved me a minute here, a minute there, for perhaps ten years now! So what, really, is the distinction?

I think, to some extent, a shell script is ultimately just limited by a lack of any libraries of code. It lends itself well to simple tasks, but if you do anything even moderately complex, you have to stop and switch to Perl or Ruby. But now Mr. Johnson has written a book that more or less creates a library in your shell script. And the tasks he writes about are so incredibly common, and his recipes so well organized, that you can just flip to a chapter like "Backing Up the Drive" or "Good Housekeeping," and find a dozen solutions to questions you're guaranteed to run into when writing your shell scripts. This book also does an excellent job of showing examples that rely on as few external programs as possible - making them perfectly portable.

This is the most useful book on shell scripting out there, and I wish I could have picked it up ten years ago. If I had, it would still be on my shelf today.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By jose_monkey_org on November 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
While the Bourne shell is listed as a full fledged programming language, few people use it like that. Some of it is that they prefer more commonly acknowledged languages like Perl, Python or the like. However, with a book like Shell Scripting Recipes: A Problem-Solution Approach, they'll want to thin twice about it.

I remember my first forays into shell scripting. I didn't want to learn Perl (then the clearly dominant scripting language), and worked hard to learn shell, awk, and sed so that I could do the things I needed to do and automate as much as possible. It paid off, and even impressed a few die hard Perl fans. Less code to do simple tasks, faster to write, and always present. While I don't do nearly as much shell scripting as I used to, I still enjoy seeing someone do neat things in /bin/sh, ksh, or bash.

Chris Johnson's book is in the traditional line of a reference book, much like the O'Reilly cookbook series or, more accurately, the old tome, UNIX Power Tools. It's got a couple of non-recipe chapters, and the rest of it is a lot of fun, useful shell scripting.

Chapter 1 is an invaluable reference to large portions of the POSIX shell language. Johnson covers things like built in commands and program flow, special variables, and variable expansion. He also clearly covers the differences between the Bourne shell and the POSIX shell where they differ. If you're worried, using Bash will almost always work with the examples, I think.

At this point it's easy to think, "I can call out to external commands for a good chunk of the functions he develops." You can, but Johnson makes a compelling argument that shows the impact of a fraction of a second can add up quickly in loops.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robert Stinnett VINE VOICE on July 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Shell Scripting Recipes provides the reader with a handy reference for shell tasks that range from the common (how do I extract a portion of a string?) to the complex but sometimes entertaining (find words that fit together on a grid aka make your own crossword). The author does a great job in his layout by presenting the problem, listing the solution and then explaining how it works. The script solutions and examples are broken down by topic and each chapter is indexed on the side of the book for easy reference by the reader.

The book was written for those who have had some Unix/Linux experience under their belt and now want to explore some of the power of the shell itself. Seasoned BASH shell users know that one of the most powerful aspects of the system is the ability to create applications that perform necessary tasks or functions just by using shell scripting. This book would be ideal for anyone who wants to get more out of their system that just using the GUI-interface that has become so common.

Most of all, it covers a lot of problems that occur everyday and that we sometime spend hours looking for a solution for. Things such as removing excess linefeeds from a file, reformatting text, retrieving data automatically and other related tasks -- things that shell scripting excels at providing a mechanism to solve.

Not for the beginner, but a must-have for the experienced Unix (particularly BASH shell) user.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harold McFarland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
If you are using a Bourne-type shell, and BASH in particular then you will find a lot of valuable information in this book. Author Chris F. A. Johnson provides an extensive education on scripting including scripts for viewing, editing, and manipulating files, manipulating strings, altering the path variable, monitoring the file system, filtering spam, backing up, archiving, deleting, and many other common tasks. How far can you go with a shell script? He even gives a working example of a database application written completely in script. On the other hand if you just want to have some fun there are even scripts for creating anagrams, fitting words into a crossword, or finding words that contain a given set of characters.

While the book is really written for the technically oriented reader, even the very basics that most users should already know are still covered. The format is more typical of what computer technicians want - this is the item to be discussed, this is how it works, this is an example, move on to the next one. When I am looking for answers this is the format I prefer and I found this book extremely useful. It will be on my bookshelf as one of the first to grab when I want to do scripting in Linux. Advanced and powerful, a real resource for the power user of the Bourne shell, Shell Scripting Recipes is highly recommended.
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