Click here to close now.



Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Anders Wallgren, Blue Box Blog, Liz McMillan, Scott Allen, Tim Hinds

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Book Rookery: Wicked Cool Shell Scripts

101 different, fun, and useful shell scripts

In this installment of the Book Rookery, Martin C. Brown speaks with Dave Taylor, author of Wicked Cool Shell Scripts, about all the fun things you can do with shell scripts, whether you're running Linux, Mac OS X, or even a mainstream Unix system.

Can you tell us more about the book and what's inside?

For years I've picked up different programming books and lamented that they weren't fun or interesting. In the shell scripting world, it's even worse, with book after book talking about how to use an "if" statement, but none containing fun, hip, edgy, and even kind of wacky shell scripts that demonstrate all sorts of useful constructs and capabilities, but focus on being interesting. That's exactly what I've done with my book, though. I skip all the how-to and instructional material - after all, there's tons of stuff online nowadays anyway - and jump straight into the content, into listing and explaining 101 different, fun, and useful shell scripts.

What's your favorite script in the book?

Well, I had the most fun figuring out how to get the hangman game (#100) to work in as few lines as possible. A flashback to my early programming life when "toss in more RAM" wasn't the solution to a bloated app! In terms of scripts I use every day, the Mac OS X "titleterm" script (#96) is just part of my everyday activity, and I really like the concepts embodied in the bestcompress script (#38) too.

What's the biggest challenge about using shell scripts?

At the end of the day, shell scripts can only be so sophisticated. My rule of thumb is that if the script is growing to be more than 200 lines or so, it's probably time to migrate to a more sophisticated programming environment. For me, it's just about always a switch into C, but I'm an old-time Unix guy so C is second nature to me.

Shell scripts? Why wouldn't people use Perl?

Perl is a viable option, but what I think is really great about shell scripts is that everyone who uses Unix, Linux, or the terminal in Mac OS X already has 90% of the skills and expertise needed to begin creating their own shell scripts. Further, every line you type into a shell script can be easily tested at a command line, so I'll often start out a script by building a longer and longer pipe of commands, then eventually just copy and paste the entire command sequence into a file and poof a new script is born.

There are lots of different Unix-related books - including a number that you've written - and shell script books. Why another one?

Yes, I admit, I've written Teach Yourself Unix in 24 Hours, Teach Yourself Unix System Administration in 24 Hours, and Unix: Man or Beast?. No, wait. Only the first two titles. Sorry.

More seriously, there are lots of books on Unix and Unix-related topics, but they almost all focus on being either dry reference works (five lines and a table of flags for all 1,600 commands included with your OS, yawn) or on step-by-step tutorials (both of my books fall into this category, the "12,158 simple steps to becoming a Unix expert" style), but there are way too few books that are fun and entertaining, choosing to teach through example and through sheer enthusiasm for the environment. Wicked Cool Shell Scripts endeavors to fill this gap and so far, based on the tremendous response from the Unix and open source community, it's hitting its mark.

What's your take on the SCO lawsuit?

I've always wondered about people who put more energy into dragging innovators back to the status quo than in innovating themselves, and I think that's exactly what the SCO team is doing. Last I checked, they weren't doing anything interesting or innovative with Unix, so why would they want to slow the rest of us down? I won't go into conspiracy theories, but there sure are a lot of curious coincidences in this situation. Ultimately, though, I'd like to see the open source community cut SCO off at the knees: work with legal people to identify exactly what code SCO believes is questionable and then have swarms of programmers en masse toss that code out of the Linux code base and rewrite all of it "black box" so that SCO is left holding... nothing.

And in the meantime, innovative work with GNOME, the new kernel, autodiscovery of network resources, further levels of compatibility with samba, and other innovations are the lifeblood of our community, and they're what I'd like to see everyone continue to focus on developing.

Your book also covers Mac OS X: What OS do you run on your main computer, and how Unix-y do you think Mac OS X really is, when compared to a distro like Fedora?

I have always been a huge fan of Macs, I have to admit. I remember many, many years ago when I first used a 512K Mac (which was loaned to me by the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link, of all groups) and realized that it was a whole new way of looking at usability. This was after years of HP's Windex and X (and I remember when Motif was state of the art, gawd!), but it was so clearly superior... I've been a die-hard Mac person ever since and now I have four Macs in my office, including a brand-new dual G5 system. They not only run Mac OS X but my Terminal window is always open too. It's a fabulous pairing of all the power and capabilities of Unix with the GUI and graphical good karma of Aqua, the Mac OS X graphical environment. It rocks!

And finally, what editor do you like, emacs or vi?

Oh boy. I'm a "vi" person and have been forever. Thank you Bill for your work in this area, even if it was oh, so many years ago. However, kudos to the vim team too: vim finally fixes all the annoying limitations of vi.

About the Author
Dave Taylor is author of 15 computer books, including Learning Unix for Mac OS X Panther and Creating Cool Web Sites. You can learn more about Wicked Cool Shell Scripts - and read through the scripts - online at www.intuitive.com/wicked.

More Stories By Martin C. Brown

Martin C. Brown is a former IT director with experience in cross-platform integration. A keen developer, he has produced dynamic sites for blue-chip customers, including HP and Oracle, and is the technical director of Foodware.net. Now a freelance writer and consultant, MC, as he is better known, works closely with Microsoft as an SME; has a regular column on both ServerWatch.com and IBM's DeveloperWorks Grid Computing site; is a core member of the AnswerSquad.com team; and has written books such as XML Processing with Perl, Python and PHP, and the Microsoft IIS 6 Delta Guide.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...