Book Image

Bash Quick Start Guide

By : Tom Ryder
Book Image

Bash Quick Start Guide

By: Tom Ryder

Overview of this book

Bash and shell script programming is central to using Linux, but it has many peculiar properties that are hard to understand and unfamiliar to many programmers, with a lot of misleading and even risky information online. Bash Quick Start Guide tackles these problems head on, and shows you the best practices of shell script programming. This book teaches effective shell script programming with Bash, and is ideal for people who may have used its command line but never really learned it in depth. This book will show you how even simple programming constructs in the shell can speed up and automate any kind of daily command-line work. For people who need to use the command line regularly in their daily work, this book provides practical advice for using the command-line shell beyond merely typing or copy-pasting commands into the shell. Readers will learn techniques suitable for automating processes and controlling processes, on both servers and workstations, whether for single command lines or long and complex scripts. The book even includes information on configuring your own shell environment to suit your workflow, and provides a running start for interpreting Bash scripts written by others.
Table of Contents (10 chapters)

To get the most out of this book

You should have access to a computer with Bash 4.0 or higher installed or available, and be able to type commands into it via a TTY, terminal emulator, Telnet, or SSH connection (for example, using PuTTY). This book does give some guidance in the first chapter on how to install Bash on your system if it's not already there, or if the installed version is too old (as may be the case on macOS X). You will need either administrative-level (root) access to the computer to install Bash yourself, or a cooperative systems administrator to help you.

If you are not sure which operating system to use, we recommend the Ubuntu distribution of GNU/Linux, available from The LTS (Long Term Support) version will do fine. Ubuntu is open source, free to download, thoroughly documented, and relatively easy to install. You can run this operating system in a virtual machine using a program or hypervisor such as VMware or VirtualBoxit does not have to be installed directly on your computer's hardware.

At the time of writing, Windows 10 has a new Bash subsystem available and in active development, the Windows Subsystem for Linux. You may find that most of the material in this book is relevant and usable on such a system, but the book does not specifically support this, and we highly recommend installing a full GNU/Linux or BSD system for your learning and experiments instead.

Download the example code files

You can download the example code files for this book from your account at If you purchased this book elsewhere, you can visit and register to have the files emailed directly to you.

You can download the code files by following these steps:

  1. Log in or register at
  2. Select the SUPPORT tab.
  3. Click on Code Downloads & Errata.
  4. Enter the name of the book in the Search box and follow the onscreen instructions.

Once the file is downloaded, please make sure that you unzip or extract the folder using the latest version of:

  • WinRAR/7-Zip for Windows
  • Zipeg/iZip/UnRarX for Mac
  • 7-Zip/PeaZip for Linux

The code bundle for the book is also hosted on GitHub at In case there's an update to the code, it will be updated on the existing GitHub repository.

We also have other code bundles from our rich catalog of books and videos available at Check them out!

Download the color images

Conventions used

There are a number of text conventions used throughout this book.

CodeInText: Indicates code words in text, database table names, folder names, filenames, file extensions, pathnames, dummy URLs, user input, and Twitter handles. Here is an example: "Mount the downloaded WebStorm-10*.dmg disk image file as another disk in your system."

A block of code is set as follows:

printf 'Starting script\n' >> log
printf 'Creating test directory\n' >> log
mkdir test || exit
printf 'Changing into test directory\n' >> log
cd test || exit
printf 'Writing current date\n' >> log
date > date || exit

Any command-line input or output is written as follows:

$ printf 'Hello, world\n' > myfile $ ls -l myfile -rw-r--r-- 1 bashuser bashuser 1 2018-07-29 20:53:23 myfile

Bold: Indicates a new term, an important word, or words that you see onscreen. For example, words in menus or dialog boxes appear in the text like this. Here is an example: "Select System info from the Administration panel."

Warnings or important notes appear like this.
Tips and tricks appear like this.