O’Reilly Releases “Learning the bash Shell, Third Edition”

Farnham, UK–As any good programmer knows, the first thing users of Unix or Linux operating systems come face to face with is the shell. “Shell” is the Unix term for a user interface to the system–something that lets you communicate with the computer via the keyboard and display. Shells are separate programs that encapsulate the system, and there are many to choose from. The Bourne Again shell–or bash for short–is a modern, general-purpose shell, freely available, and the shell of choice for users of Linux, Mac OS X, BSD, and other popular systems.

Mastering the bash shell might sound fairly simple, but it isn’t without its complexities. Newly updated and refreshed to cover bash 3, “Learning the bash Shell, Third Edition” by Cameron Newham and Bill Rosenblatt is the definitive guide to bash, encompassing everything from the most basic to the more advanced features of the shell. The book is a valuable tutorial for those who are interested in bash either as a user interface or for its powerful programming capabilities. Newcomers will learn how to use bash’s advanced command-line features, such as command history, command-line editing, and command completion, while the book offers in-depth guidance for experienced bash users as well.

“Learning the bash Shell” also introduces shell programming, a skill noUnix or Linux user should be without. Authors Newham and Rosenblatt guide readers step-by-step through bash’s programming features; readers learn about flow control, signal handling, and command-line processing and I/O. There is a complete chapter on debugging bash programs. And finally, the book shows how to acquire, install, configure, and customize bash, including expert advice for system administrators who manage bash for their user communities.

This new edition covers all the features of bash Version 3.0, while still applying to Versions 1.x and 2.x. It includes a debugger for the bash shell, both as an extended example and as a useful piece of working code. Since shell scripts are a significant part of many software projects, Newham and Rosenblatt also discuss how to write maintainable shell scripts. In addition, “Learning the bash Shell” deals with the many features that have been introduced to bash over the years: one-dimensional arrays, parameter expansion, pattern-matching operations, new commands, and security improvements.

Unfailingly practical and packed with examples and questions for future study, “Learning the bash Shell, Third Edition” is a valuable asset for Linux and other Unix users.

Praise for the previous edition:

“This book is written for beginners and takes you from the basics all the way to system administration. Even the old pros are likely to learn a trick or two. It covers features of bash all the way to the, ‘Wow, I didn’t know bash could do that!’ level. The authors have provided tons of examples from commands to scripts and the major scripts are available for download from O’Reilly…If you just want to be comfortable using the command line interface or want to go all the way to a working knowledge of writing your own scripts and administering your system or a network, this is the book for you…It’s a must-have for anyone using Linux/UNIX. I give ‘Learning the bash Shell’ 5/5 Big Grins.”
–USA Linux Users Group

“I purchased ‘Learning the bash Shell’ in December of 2000, when I was thrust into a Linux working environment and had no time to learn. From the moment the book arrived from Fatbrain till now, ‘Learning the bash Shell’ has kept a place no further than arms-length from my computer. No other technical book can say the same. Why have I found this book so useful? Obviously my needs have changed, as I’ve progressed in skill. Initially, I wanted to feel comfortable on the command line. Later on, I wanted to learn some shell scripting. ‘Learning the bash Shell’ taught me both.”
–Meg Golding, linuxchix.org

“I really like this book. To learn bash, you just start at the beginning of the book, read it in the order of its presentation, which is well-organized in a tutorial sequence, and try out all the commands and scripts the book gives as examples.”
–Al Stevens, Dr Dobbs Journal

Further reviews of “Learning the bash Shell” can be found at:

Additional Resources:

Chapter 4, “Basic Shell Programming,” is available online at:

For more information about the book, including table of contents, index, author bios, and samples, see:

For a cover graphic in JPEG format, go to:

Learning the bash Shell, Third Edition
Cameron Newham and Bill Rosenblatt
ISBN: 0-596-00965-8, 333 pages, $34.95. £24.95, 31 €

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