Chad_Wollenberg writes "Anyone who has used a derivative of Unix over the past 20 years has used Bash, which stands for Borne Again Shell. The geek in all of us makes us want to extend our ability to rule the command line. To truly master a Unix environment, you need to know a shell, and Bash is easily the most popular of them. Any Unix/Linux/BSD administrator knows the power at your fingertips is fully extended by what you can do within the Bash environment, and all of us need the best recipes to get the job done." Keep reading for the rest of Chad's review.Enter Bash Cookbook. Properly named for the series of O'reilly books that gives you valuable information on subjects in the form of recipes, this book was refreshing in that it was properly organized, and surprisingly contemporary, even citing Virtualized platforms as a way to try out different OS's for Bash. The book does a good job of pointing out the different operating systems that do run Bash, even citing Cygwin for Windows. They also use the POSIX standard, so that all of the examples are portable across platforms.
Bash Cookbook is by no means for the feint of heart. It seems that the book is meant for intermediate and above users of Bash. However, the first several chapters do a significant job of over viewing basic concepts of Bash navigation and combing simple commands. The book quickly changes gears to complex statements on how to get things done in Bash.
By Chapter 7, Bash Cookbook extends out of Bash commands and begins exploring combining the power of bash scripting with useful command such as grep, awk, and sed. To quote the authors, "if our scripting examples are going to tackle real-world problems, they need to use the wider range of tools that are actually used by real-world bash users and programmers." And that is exactly what they do. This chapter alone gave me the ability to do more in the command line environment simply by explaining the functions of the scripts put forth. That is something that any reader, intermediate to expert, can take from this book. The detailed explanations really do give everyone the ability to learn something about the commands, and the references to additional resources often lead me to the computer, looking up further details.
I found Chapter 11 to be very useful (pun intended) finally grasping some concepts on the find command that have previously escaped me. From Chapter 12 on, the book focuses on writing useful and complex scripts. This is where the book really begins to shine for the Unix enthusiast and system administrator. The scripts found in Chapter 12, and their elaborate descriptions begin to show the true power of Bash scripting, and how much you can automate. Chapter 14 is about securing your scripts, and is a heavy read, but well worth reading for any administrator that would be using their scripts in a production environment.
Just when you think this book has reached its limits, it gives very handy customization examples in Chapter 16 on how to configure and customize Bash. And also goes into common mistakes made by the novice user. Combine all of that with the Appendices for quick reference, and this book has not left my side since it arrived. While I would not recommend this book for the novice user, I would recommend this book to any system administrator that has to work with Unix or Linux. If nothing else, the examples given here are full of good, reusable code to make tasks easier in your day to day functions. Well done.
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