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Book:   bash Cookbook
Subject: - Review of "bash Cookbook"
Date:   2007-06-26 07:00:32
From:   Crouse
Rating:  StarStarStarStarStar - Review of "bash Cookbook"
The book: bash Cookbook - Solutions and Examples for bash Users
By Carl Albing, JP Vossen, Cameron Newham
Pages: 622
First Edition: May 2007
ISBN 10: 0-596-52678-4
ISBN 13: 9780596526788

Book Link:
Code Examples:

Price: $49.99 USD

I had been waiting "im"-patiently for this book to show up. Ever since I noticed it was going to be written, I had been looking forward to reading it. I must say, I wasn't disappointed. I really enjoyed the book and definitely learned a few new things along the way.

This book is designed for intermediate to advanced bash users. The book states in the preface that it is for "new" users as well as those more experienced. I think that they give too much credit to someone new too bash. If you don't know what bash scripting is, this book ISN'T for you. Try the book "Learning the Bash Shell", it would be much better to learn from. I'll say it one more time -- This book isn't for those new to shell scripting. In my opinion, it kind of picks up where "Learning the Bash Shell" and "Classic Shell Scripting" from O'reilly left off. It compliments both books pretty well. Where "Learning the Bash Shell" teaches you the basics, and "Classic Shell Scripting" builds on the concepts and materials covered in the chapter before, so it's a book that is best read front to back and not just used as a reference, this book is truly more of a reference that you can use to find solutions to different problems. Hence the "cookbook" in the title.

As an intermediate to advanced user, you will find many of the solutions very simple and straightforward, but I dare say, you will find a few new twists and solutions that you might not have thought of otherwise. When used a reference, it provides a nice Table of Contents with good descriptions that allow you to quickly find answers to many common problems. Examples are clear, concise, and well documented, making it fairly easy to follow along, even if you didn't understand the syntax of the code at first. I liked the fact they included many examples of sed,awk, and even ed, which are frequently used in shell scripting, but many books barely mention those programs.

The Appendix sections (A-E) take up 83 pages of the book, several of these could very well have just been additional chapters of the book. Appendix E "Building bash from Source" could have been chapter 1. However, each chapter/section is a "recipe" so I suppose it wouldn't have been in line with the rest of the chapters at that point. All in all, a very interesting book that I read front to back. It will be a valuable reference tool, that's easy to navigate and use. The chapters I enjoyed the most were Chapter 14 "Writing Secure Shell Scripts", where they included a template for quick reference. Several of the techniques I already knew about, a few I did not. I also liked Chapter 11 "Working with Dates and Times". Many good ideas there, and some very interesting code for the "date -d" command.

There are 3 great books for shell scripters from O'reilly, this is one of them.

For the beginner "Learning the Bash Shell". It teaches you the basics.
For the intermediate user "Classic Shell Scripting". It builds on the basics, step by step.
For the intermeidate to advanced users "bash Cookbook". A reference guide for common problems.

I would probably recommend reading them in that order as well. "bash Cookbook" is definitely going to be easier to read and get use of if you already know basic shell scripting. All 3 books have that "tattered" look and a permanent place on my bookshelf. I would say, "bash Cookbook" is absolutely a book worth owning if you enjoy shell scripting. I don't think I've ever seen a more complete set of solutions in a shell scripting book. In the preface, one thing that caught my eye ..... But perhaps most importantly, we hope that when you have a question about how to do something or you need a hint, you will be able to easily find the right answer--or something close enough-- and save time and effort. ------ I think they accomplished their goal ! 5 out of 5. Excellent book...excellent.

Dave Crouse
USA Linux Users Group