Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good collection of recipes. Covers bash 3.2, May 10, 2008
This review is from: bash Cookbook: Solutions and Examples for bash Users (Cookbooks (O'Reilly)) (Paperback)
Currently this is the only book that specifically covers bash 3.2, the version that contain new and interesting features like =~ operator for "normal" regular expression matching.

The main advantage of the book that it really covers a lot of ground and provides system administrators and users with a lot of good and difficult to find tips about customizing of the environment and making yourself more productive.

Chapters 5-6 which provide good overview of new features introduced in version 3.x including "normal" regular expressions pattern matching ( operator =~) and C-style for loop. One problem with shells traditionally use two completely obsolete notations for regular expressions (basic regular expression often known as DOS-style regular expressions plus quite perverse prefix notation ). Bash 3.2 did not fixes this problem as this is a problem of Unix in general (Unix can be called an Os that uses a dozen of different definitions of regular expressions :-) that but at least added a normal regular expression notion to the list.

After chapters 5 and 6 I recommend reading chapters 9, 17 and 19 and then the rest. While chapters are of very uneven quality, usually you can find at least one useful tip in each.

The spectrum of bash related tips and useful mini-scripts is quote substantial. The authors cover classic things like customizing prompt quite well. The book is not only about bash it covers a lot of ground including use of classic Unix utilities in scripting (most notably grep, find, sort, and date) along with related topics such as use of pipes and I/O redirection.

Of course for such a complex topic there are some shortcomings. It's a pretty difficult task to write a good cookbook but authors did an excellent job and provided many very valuable tips that can help to improve both system administrators and power users productivity.

One of the problems for a cookbook is a good organization and specifically a good starting chapter and here authors failed. Some chapters are half-baked. The Chapter about version control is badly written and very superficial. The authors just mention a couple of system without any details. And in this topic the devil is in details.

Some bash features are explained superficially. For example bash has horrible implementation of pushd/popd/dirs troika and it not that easy to use them productively. One notable deficiency is that there is no way to suppress duplicates which in essence make this feature almost unusable. The authors treatment looks like a baseless advertizing of a poorly implemented feature.

But I hope that the authors will improve the book in the next edition and I am reluctant to downgrade the book based on those flaws. After all, this is a cookbook and it should be judged by the best recipes not the worst.
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