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Wicked Cool Shell Scripts 1st Edition

43 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 068-9145701272
ISBN-10: 1593270127
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Editorial Reviews


"A great resource for intermediate to experienced shell programmers." -- WebDevReviews

"Far above anything else available… This is the book that every other publisher tries to imitate." -- LinuxWorld, January 2005

"Good examples of what can be done, and how to go about it." -- Major Keary Book News, 2004 No. 9

"If you already know how to write rudimentary Unix scripts, here are some tools that'll really float your boat." --

"a quite comprehensive explanation of shell scripting with plenty of really good and practical examples" -- Lehigh Valley Linux User Group, March 2004

"an excellent book which will extend your knowledge and provide more than a hundred ready-to-run scripts" --

"suggested reading for anyone who enjoys shell scripting or is responsible for administrating systems" --, March 2004

A hands-on book. Not really a tutorial, but more of a cross-platform scripting cookbook. -- MacCompanion, August 2005,

About the Author

Dave Taylor has a Masters degree in Education, an MBA, and has written a dozen technical books, including Learning UNIX for Mac OS X (O'Reilly), Solaris for Dummies (Hungry Minds), and Teach Yourself UNIX in 24 Hours (SAMS). He was a contributor to BSD 4.4 UNIX, and his software is included in many major UNIX distributions.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1st edition (January 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593270127
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593270124
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Lawrence VINE VOICE on March 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
I often take a dim view of books that use superlatives in their titles. I also don't think there is anything "wicked cool" about shell scripting in general: if you need anything complex at all, Perl or something else is probably a much better way to to it. Shell scripting gets awfully nasty awfully fast.
However, I was wrong. Yes, shell scripting is an abominable way to approach most of the tasks this book explores. Just the same, the author does it "wicked cool" and you can learn a lot both from how he sees the problem and the other Unix tools he uses as part of the script. So while you might shudder at the idea of writing a link-checker in Bash, the author's clever use of Lynx's "traverse" flag is something you might make use of elsewhere. You'll find useful things like that throughout the book, and even if you'd rather write it in Perl or whatever, the logic is worth examining.
Mac OS X users will appreciate that a whole chapter is devoted to that. There's nothing particularly deep there, nothing you will be surprised by, but it's nice to see Mac get specific mention. That brings up another important point: shells are different and Unixes are different. The author does pay a lot of attention to the differences that can cause problems for your scripts when they need to run on different platforms.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By W Boudville HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
The book is aimed at all users and systems administrators of linux and every unix variant, including most importantly the MacOS. If you already know some scripting, you should be quite at ease here. Taylor does decide to restrict his discussion to the Bourne shell and its descendent, bash. He drops the C shell! But, as he points out, the scripts he gives can be easily rewritten in the latter if you desire.
The book can be roughly divided into two parts. The first is essentially traditional scripting tasks. A user from 1988 would see original material here, but no qualitative surprises.
The second half of the book is more interesting. It centres on Web applications. For example, when running a Web server that uses CGI, Perl and C are often the choice for implementing logic. But sometimes you can get by with a simpler approach - using a Bourne shell. Taylor shows how to do this to make simple web pages, with images, even. Cool! Though this outlook lacks the full expressive power of generating dynamic pages via Java Server Pages/Servlets, these latter alternatives can be quite forbidding to learn. If you are already comfortable with sed, awk, grep [etc], you may want to try this approach, provided your web site is not too complex.
In summary, the web scripting approach suggested here may be the most distinctive and useful sections. Worth checking out.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
Another one of my goals this year is to get familiar with Linux and shell scripting. I have some "how to" books, but I also picked up Dave Taylor's Wicked Cool Shell Scripts - 101 Scripts For Linux, Mac OS X, and UNIX Systems (No Starch Press). Taylor's done a great job with this book.

Chapter List: Introduction; The Missing Code Library; Improving on User Commands; Creating Utilities; Tweaking Unix; System Administration: Managing Users; System Administration: System Maintenance; Web and Internet Users; Webmaster Hacks; Web and Internet Administration; Internet Server Administration; Mac OS X Scripts; Shell Script Fun and Games; Afterword; Index

Taylor didn't write this book as a tutorial on script writing. Rather, he wanted to provide a "cookbook" of scripts that people could learn from and use immediately. He also wanted something more interesting than the scripts normally found in the how to books on the market. I'd agree that he's accomplished his purpose. Each script starts with a listing of the code and an explanation of how it works. He shows you how to run the script and what the results of running the script should be. Finally, there's a "hacking the script" paragraph that explains how you might want to modify the script to do something different. This entire package of paragraphs in each script serves as a sort of "mini-lesson" on some aspect of script writing.

As I mentioned above, I'm not quite ready for this book right now. When I pick up some fundamentals, I'll be heading into the Web and Internet Users section. There's code there on using Lynx and shell scripts to strip out information from websites. I have a project in mind I've wanted to do for some time, and I think I finally found the tools that will allow me to do it.
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Format: Paperback
WICKED COOL SHELL SCRIPTS is a collection of pre-made bash scripts for various tasks similar to one of O'Reilly's "cookbooks". All scripts here use bash--the author rejects csh because of Tom Christiansen's classic essay "Csh Programming Considered Harmful" and the Korn shell because he considers it fine for interactive use but not so good for scripting.

The basic format of each entry is first the problem--what the user wants to do--then the code, followed sometimes by an explanation and advice on hacking the code. The book is not really an introduction to Bash scripting. If you want a systematic primer I'd recommend O'Reilly's LEARNING THE BASH SHELL or any of a dozen libre tutorials.

Some of the scripts are useful and solve problems I've occasionally faced. For example, the GNU units program can't do temperature conversions, but a script is given here which uses bc to provide a solution. Quite elegant is a script with which the user can find the time anywhere in the world by querying in a friendly manner the system's zoneinfo files. In spite of some neat gimmicks, however, I don't think I can really recommend the book unless you're someone about to take a voyage on the south seas and won't have Internet access. Many of these scripts can be found on the Web, and far too many scripts here solve problems already long solved by available programs. The author describes a secure version of locate, when slocate is already easily installable on most *nix systems. A script for rotating log files is done when metalog and other common log programs do this automatically. Take out all these unnecessary scripts, and the amount of useful content in the book turns out to be very low indeed.
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