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All information current as of 14:24:57 Pacific Time, Monday, 21 February 2005.

Learning the bash Shell, 2nd Edition

   by Cameron Newham / Bill Rosenblatt

    02 January, 1998


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Editorial description(s):

From Book News, Inc.
New edition of a guide to the Free Sofware Foundation's "Bourne Again Shell." Intended both for those who are interested in bash as a user interface as well as for those who want to exploit its powerful programming capabilities. Coverage includes shell programming, bash's advanced command-line features, installation of the shell, and configuring and customizing bash. This edition updates information to bash version 2.0, including information on one- dimensional arrays, parameter expansion, conformity with POSIX.2 standards, security improvements, and the bash shell debugger. Book News, Inc.®, Portland, OR

Book Info
Introduces shell programming and demonstrates what you can do with bash's programming features. Shows you how to acquire, install, configure, and customize bash, and gives advice to system administrators managing bash for their user community. Paper.

The publisher, O'Reilly and Associates
The first thing users of the Linux operating system come face to face with is the shell. "Shell" is the UNIX term for a user interface to the system -- something that lets you communicate with the computer via the keyboard and display. Bash, the Free Software Foundation's "Bourne Again Shell," is the default shell for Linux, the popular free UNIX-like operating system. It's also a replacement for the standard UNIX Bourne shell, which serves both as a user interface and as a programming language. Like the FSF's other tools, bash is more than a mere replacement: it extends the Bourne shell in many ways. New features include command line editing, key bindings, integrated programming features, command completion, control structures (especially the select construct, which enables you to create menus easily) and new ways to customize your environment. Whether you want to use bash for its user interface or its programming features you will find Learning the bash Shell a valuable guide. The book covers all of bash's features, both for interactive use and programming. If you are new to shell programming, Learning the bash Shell provides an excellent introduction, covering everything from the most basic to the most advanced features, like signal handling and command line processing. If you've been writing shell scripts for years, it offers a great way to find out what the new shell offers. The book is full of examples of shell commands and programs that are designed to be useful in your everyday life as a user, not just to illustrate the feature being explained. All of these examples are freely available to you online on the Internet. With this book you'll learn: How to install bash as your login shell The basics of interactive shell use, including UNIX file and directory structures, standard I/O, and background jobs Command line editing, history substitution, and key bindings How to customize your shell environment without programming The nuts and bolts of basic shell programming, flow control structures, command-line options and typed variables Process handling, from job control to processes, coroutines and subshells Debugging techniques, such as trace and verbose modes Techniques for implementing system-wide shell customization and features related to system security --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description
bash, the Free Software Foundation's "Bourne Again Shell," is the default shell for Linux, as well as a replacement for the standard UNIX Bourne shell. If you are new to shell programming, Learning the bash Shell is an excellent introduction, covering everything from the most basic to the most advanced features. If you've been writing shell scripts for years, it offers a great way to find out what the bash shell offers. This second edition covers all of the features of bash Version 2.0, while still applying to bash Version 1.x. New features include one-dimensional arrays, parameter expansion, and more pattern-matching operations. In addition, bash 2.0 is POSIX.2 conformant. This updated edition covers new commands, security improvements, additions to ReadLine, improved configuration and installation, and an additional programming aid, the bash shell debugger. Whether you want to use bash for its programming features or its user interface, you will find Learning the bash Shell, 2nd Edition a valuable guide.

Reader review(s):

Good Intro To Bash Use; Lacks Robust Code Examples, June 4, 2001
This O'Reilly Publication does a good job in filling a void for a good introduction to Bash Shell scripting. Bash has become the shell script programming choice for most Unix and Linux shell programmers, because of its strengths over C shell (Csh) and other Unix-based Shell environments as a fairly robust freeware script programming language.

Strengths of the publication are the clear explanations of the bash shell programming environment, the effective use of tables to summarize basic shell language and programming constructs, UNIX-based utilities, shell environment customization, shell Syntax, Bash File Operators and control key definitions.

A chapter is devoted to edit mode capabilities (both eMacs and Vi Command-Line Editing Commands are covered and summarized effectively in clearly doucmented tables).

The book contains a number of terse script programming tasks, which provide clear examples of the material presented in the text. These program examples are reworked to provide a clear example of how Bash scripts can be modified to provide greater flexibility and reusability of Bash shell program code.

I would like to see more robust programming shell examples in the book as examples of mini-applications, which Bash is frequently used for in many Unix-based or Unix-derived platforms. The "Task 5-1" program example is an example where a good example of a program, which does an adequate job of clearly covering the use of Bash File Operators, yet the author(s) make the statement that the code is "relatively long winded".

Another area the book could address is the use of Bash in a Windows environment. I was able to port some of the programming tasks presented to a Windows 95/98 environment using the GNU Bash Version 2.03 for Windows package available on the internet.

Despite these drawbacks, I rate the book four stars on the strengths that it is the only readily-available publication, which is solely devoted to Bash shell use and programming. The O'Reilly publication is definitely worth the investment, if you are looking for a book to get you started on Bash Shell Script programming on a Unix, Linux or Windows (to a limited degree) environment.

Lacking examples, September 4, 1999
Learning the Bash Shell, should be not be called a learning book. The lack of real world examples really hurt this book. I found Unix Shells by Example a much better learning tool for the Bash Shell. This was surprising, since other learning books by O'Reilly are considerably better than this one.

Short on reference material and real world examples., April 11, 1999
This book does provide some help for BASH beginners, but lacks reference material and real world examples of BASH Shell programming. Any programming book SHOULD include real world examples OR complete reference material to be considered quality material. This book does NOT make the grade

Highly pedagogic and enjoyable introduction to Bash/Unix, April 4, 2000
I review the book from a Unix beginners perspective. I havent finished reading the book yet, but I just cant resist sharing my positive feelings about it. It might very well be true that the book lacks real world examples, as the other reviewers point out. But let me balance this criticism by highliting great strengths that the book has (at least for newcomers to Unix like me). Picking up this book, I had very little knowledge of Unix and I had not read any book on shell programming before. I used to be very sceptical about working with shells having grown up with the easiness of use of GUIs like MS Windows. Thanks to this book I am now dying to get my hands on Linux to start using the Bash shell (for now, I am using Cygwin under NT). The book answers all the questions I used to have about Unix as I was programming on the Solaris platform. Because of this book, I am now deeply fascinated by the simplicity and power of Unix! I want to send my sincere gratitude to the authors!

Solid coverage of bash fundamentals..., March 3, 1999
I just finished this book, and I have to say it was definitely worth the money. The authors do a more than credible job of describing the fundamentals of bash without going too deeply into technical minutiae. Not that they don't present some complex examples! I appreciated the fact that the examples in early chapters were revisited and augmented in later chapters as more complex material was presented. People who prefer thick reference-type compendiums that need not be read in a linear fashion may dislike this, but I found it to be quite helpful.

Particularly illuminating was the image manipulation script they used as an example in several chapters. It really gave me an idea of the power of scripting. Unfortunately, obtaining the source code for the tools the example relied on and compiling them turned out to be a chore; I finally gave up. Still, I had no problem understanding the example even without actually being able to implement it. And there were plenty of other examples that didn't rely on non-standard unix utilities.

If I had to make a single criticism, I'd say that the book could focus a bit more on *interactive* shell use, and why bash is better/worse than other shells in interactive mode. Being a former tcsh user who has developed lots of aliases and programmed completions over time, it would've been helpful to have a section called "Migrating from Csh" or something like that...

Good explanations, but lacking decent examples, May 1, 2000
This book is aimmed at beginners, but goes into enough depth to get you truly on your way. It explanations of commands, and concepts are very clear and concise. Also, I like how the authors initially in the book go over and explain commands several times, as this makes remembering the syntax of commands much simplier (for someone with bad memory, like me).

One criticism is the lack of decent examples, when they are given. All the examples seem to be oversimply or non-real-world, and I feel the authors could make concepts clearer by including more examples.

To sum up, this is not a book for you if you learn by trial-and-error and examples, but if you don't mind the lack of decent examples, then this book is a good unix shell programming book.

Good intro to bash shell, September 18, 2000
This is a good place to start if you are looking into using the bash shell (unix). The book provides clear cut explanations of all of the commands present in the bash shell. The lack of examples is tolerable, though a little annoying when thoes ever-present half-understandings pop up and a quick example would clear it right up. Making up your own and testing it out works though.

Unfortunately the shell scripting/programming part has been rendered rather useless by the up and rising use of perl for shell scripting. The sections still cover it, but most people scripting for unix shells are using perl because of its simplicity and power.

Overall this is a great book to teach yourself the basics of the bash command line interface in unix, probably the best bash book out there.

Good Introduction, April 16, 2001
This book is a good introduction to the Bourne-Again Shell for those absolutely new to it. The book assumes that you already know how to use the basic UNIX utilities, like cat, grep, find, and so on, and it does not attempt to teach them to you, but I think a chapter on them may have been helpful for those just coming to use the bash shell. Configuration tips, syntax and scripting examples make the book a very useful aid to one trying to become comfortable in the Linux world. Nothing spectacular, but it gets the job done.

Recommend highly!!!, March 22, 2003
This book is an excellent resource for Linux-literate individuals. I use it to tutor students and adults on Bash shell programming. For beginners, it may be too difficult, but the people with hands-on experience will appreciate its content of the each chapter. It lacks real-world examples but with imagination and creativity, you can easily drum up a number of viable samples. This book is not for people who need to be spoon-fed.

Good bus reading, September 8, 2001
You want to learn Bash, use it, read man pages, whatever. If Bash is the shell you chose, maybe you don't need a book because you can learn what you need at the terminal. I like this book because sometimes I don't have a terminal in front of me, like when I'm sitting on the bus in the morning. So I have this book with me, and I read a few pages rather than stare out the window. It's cheap, so what the heck, if you are a Bash user and feel like there's more to learn then grab it.

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