Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Cameron Van Orman, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that Suzuki Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Suzuki Inc. is a semiconductor-related business, including sales of consuming parts, parts repair, and maintenance for semiconductor manufacturing machines, etc. It is also a health care business providing experimental research for...
Real IoT production deployments running at scale are collecting sensor data from hundreds / thousands / millions of devices. The goal is to take business-critical actions on the real-time data and find insights from stored datasets. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Walicki, Watson IoT Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud, will provide a fast-paced developer journey that follows the IoT sensor data from generation, to edge gateway, to edge analytics, to encryption, to the IBM Bluemix cloud, to Wa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nihon Micron will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nihon Micron Co., Ltd. strives for technological innovation to establish high-density, high-precision processing technology for providing printed circuit board and metal mount RFID tags used for communication devices. For more inf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Greg Gorman is the Director, IoT Developer Ecosystem, Watson IoT, will provide a short tutorial on Node-RED, a Node.js-based programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using a wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click. There is a large library of contributed nodes that help so...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SIGMA Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. uLaser flow inspection device from the Japanese top share to Global Standard! Then, make the best use of data to flip to next page. For more information, visit http://www.sigma-k.co.jp/en/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Daiya Industry specializes in orthotic support systems and assistive devices with pneumatic artificial muscles in order to contribute to an extended healthy life expectancy. For more information, please visit https://www.daiyak...
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. B2Cloud specializes in IoT devices for preventive and predictive maintenance in any kind of equipment retrieving data like Energy consumption, working time, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp em...
What is the best strategy for selecting the right offshore company for your business? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, will discuss the things to look for - positive and negative - in evaluating your options. He will also discuss how to maximize productivity with your offshore developers. Before you start your search, clearly understand your business needs and how that impacts software choices.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interface Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Interface Corporation is a company developing, manufacturing and marketing high quality and wide variety of industrial computers and interface modules such as PCIs and PCI express. For more information, visit http://www.i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Keisoku Research Consultant Co. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Keisoku Research Consultant, Co. offers research and consulting in a wide range of civil engineering-related fields from information construction to preservation of cultural properties. For more information, vi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusic will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Fusic Co. provides mocks as virtual IoT devices. You can customize mocks, and get any amount of data at any time in your test. For more information, visit https://fusic.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enroute Lab will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enroute Lab is an industrial design, research and development company of unmanned robotic vehicle system. For more information, please visit http://elab.co.jp/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Mobile Create USA will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Mobile Create USA Inc. is an MVNO-based business model that uses portable communication devices and cellular-based infrastructure in the development, sales, operation and mobile communications systems incorporating GPS capabi...