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From Bash to Z Shell: Conquering the Command Line Paperback – November 11, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Oliver Kiddle is actively involved with the development of ZSH, and acts as a team authority in areas such as completion and parameters. Kiddle is a graduate of the University of York.

Jerry Peek is a freelance writer and instructor. He has used shells extensively and has taught users about them for over 20 years. Peek is the "Power Tools" columnist for Linux Magazine and coauthored the book UNIX Power Tools.

Peter Stephenson grew up in northeast England and studied physics at Oxford, where he earned a bachelor's degree and a Ph.D. Stephenson spent 9 years as a physics researcher, with an emphasis on computational physics, and resided in Liverpool, Swansea, Berlin, and Pisa.

Since 2000, Stephenson has been a software engineer with Cambridge Silicon Radio, where he works on the baseband firmware for short-range digital radio standards, such as Bluetooth. Stephenson has been involoved in the development of ZSH since the 1990s, when he began writing the FAQs. The past several years, he has coordinated the shell's development.

About the Author

Oliver Kiddle is actively involved with the development of the Z shell, and acts as a team authority in areas such as completion and parameters. Kiddle is a graduate of the University of York, U.K.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Apress (November 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590593766
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590593769
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #968,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I work on multiple Unix platforms all day long. I had never really taken the time to learn about the shells, but I had picked up the basics over time. I knew how to run commands, string them together with pipes, and redirect their output into files. So when I tell you that I started learning new things in the first chapter of From Bash to Z Shell, you will know the coverage is in depth. If you are a casual shell user, or even less experienced, this book has a lot to offer you.

From Bash to Z Shell is organized into three parts. Part one is an introduction to shell basics. It focuses on typical interactions with a shell including all of the things I mentioned knowing before reading this book. There is surprisingly good depth even here though and I doubt that anyone short of a power user could make it through this section without picking up a new trick or two. I learned multiple things from each chapter in this section.

In part two, each chapter takes a single aspect of the shells and really focuses in on just that. You will find chapters about the startup files each shell invokes as well as shell command histories. This is comprehensive coverage that really gets you to understand how things work as well as how to tune them to your personal tastes. You are even less likely to not pickup great tips in here.

The third and final part of the book turns to shell programming. While I suspect that plenty of users interact with a shell regularly without getting much into scripting them, there are still useful tidbits in here for them too. For example, after reading this section, I added some code to my startup file to customize my shell's completion functionality.
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Format: Paperback
The command line was introduced with the first interactive computers, Whereas GUIs are pretty and convenient for many tasks, power users know that only a command line lets you tell a computer exactly what to do. "From Bash to Z Shell" wants to let everybody in on this secret, and it meets its goal admirably.

"From Bash to Z Shell" assumes little about the reader's experience with computers. The first few chapters introduce the concept of a command shell and something of the UNIX philosophy. Don't worry, though, because examples throughout the book show bash and zsh running on Windows. These first few chapters look at the C shell as well as the eponymous shells.

The middle chapters each explore a single important concept like command editing, completion, pattern matching, redirection, and process management. Special features of bash and zsh are introduced in context. I can't stress enough how useful these chapters are: the manual pages for these shells are large but still terse and cryptic. This book manages to provide a conceptual framework into which all of its useful tidbits can be organized and absorbed.

The last few chapters look at scripting: both full blown programs and smaller chunks of shell-customization code. Again, the material here is invaluable: you're not going to get it from the manual pages!

If you work on UNIX systems, or if you'd like to make your Windows environment vastly more powerful, you need this book. I strongly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
This book walks through various aspects of how to use Bash and zsh to do powerful things, with something of a focus on how to configure them. (Thus, you're learning to make your shell environment even more powerful!)

It walks through, in parallel, the way to configure the two shells. I didn't expect this to be useful; I expected that I'd prefer to have more zsh material, and skip the Bashing. It turns out, however, that, in many cases, their parallel development has led to strong parallels in functionality. This is useful because, well, I don't get to install zsh everywhere that I might like to :-).

Somewhat surprisingly, the book waits until right near the end to present the notions of control structures and writing functions. The last two chapters are quite the culmination of the effort; one on functions provides a presentation of script option parsing better than I have seen anywhere; absolutely excellent.

The final chapter, on writing zsh command completion extensions, is similarly wonderful. The reference and online documents are fairly opaque without having a good overview of what you're trying to accomplish. The book provides that overview...
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I've just finished reading From Bash to Z Shell from APress Publishing. It's taught this Linux NetAdmin several new tricks, and should be an addition to any Admin's bookshelf. It'll fit nicely next to your O'Reilly's.

I initially bought the book to lean the Z Shell (zsh), but decided that I'll stick with good 'ole Bash for a little longer. The tricks I've learned through this book about Bash quenches my needs for the moment. This book teaches you about essential techniques such as CDPATH, History options, key bindings, editing modes, and tons more. I've only read it only once, but I have already dog-eared 20 pages. My ~/.bashrc, and ~/.inputrc are in full swing with many new shortcuts! I highly recommend this book!!
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