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Shell Scripting Recipes: A Problem-Solution Approach (Expert's Voice in Open Source) 1st ed. Edition
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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.
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There's a lot to this book; it's not like a "nutshell" book (generally, excellent references), but rather exactly what it says, a recipe book. Read morePublished on July 6, 2013 by Arnold H.
This book was written in 2005, and although the author writes well, the recipes are dated and suited more towards desktop users.Published on November 4, 2011 by Rebel Shrug
Useful. Good examples (but not for the absolute beginner). Korn shell users might want to also consider "Korn Shell: Programs for Your Survival at Work" by Larry L. Smith. Read morePublished on November 16, 2006 by Computer_Geek
Although all the expected mundane script tricks and tips are here, I was surprised that Chris tackles tasks that I would have given up on and turned to Perl or other higher level... Read morePublished on June 17, 2005 by Anthony Lawrence