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Sunday, 22 September 2013

Review: Linux Shell Scripting Cookbook, Second Edition [eBook], Packt Publishing

A couple of days ago I received an invitation to take a look at the Linux Shell Scripting Cookbook, Second Edition [eBook] and this sounded like an interesting way to spend some time, so here we are. Be aware this is just a quick overview and a more detailed one may come later.

This is the digital companion to the paperback released on 21 May 2013. Purchasing the digital edition from Packt Publishing will give you access to several formats and you can also send it straight to your Kindle. Supported formats are epub, Amazon's mobi, PDF or you can read it online in an ebook reader opening in the browser. Browsing around in the reader worked well and all pages loaded quickly, there were also no problems with downloading the files in question using Chromium. That should be enough for most people. You also get a small library of free titles when signing up, some quite handy like a quick starter on how to set up Qmail (if you're concerned about entrusting all your conversations to external web mail services), implementing RSS and Atom feeds or Building Online Communities with phpBB.

So much for the technicalities. The book has undoubtedly been written by two competent as well as enthusiastic users who are both contributors to various projects, among them KDE and Pardus Linux. This shows as the term shell here means Bash, the Bourne again shell which is default in almost all distributions using the linux kernel. Almost everything in this book should also be usable on a BSD system though if Bash is installed and if the admin is adjusting commands for a different file system hierarchy as Linux and BSD grow apart, but that would also be the case for Fedora with its simplified file system for example.

The reader is first introduced to the basics of the shell and then to elements of a shell script like variables and functions, arrays, aliases, functions and arguments, debugging and how to run comparisons and tests with if conditions.
After that every chapter starts with an objective and describes how to achieve it using scripts and manipulate the process efficiently, for example how to script scheduling and completing a backup or how to interact with web services like Twitter and Gmail from the shell.
The Packt website also features a Code Download column for the digital edition that, once unzipped, places a folder with scripts that are discussed in the book in your directory, ordered by chapters.

All in all, although I haven't fully gone through it yet, I find this cookbook extremely useful. It is aimed at the intermediate user but would have a place well deserved on every sysadmins (virtual) shelf. Some of it is familiar if you already own titles like the Linux Phrasebook or other, heavier tomes on shell scripting, but my assessment is it combines the two in areas that are of immediate interest to the advanced home user without going overboard. It definitely complements my phrasebook well.

Get it here: http://www.packtpub.com/linux-shell-scripting-cookbook-second-edition/book

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