Today I received a copy of Wicked Cool Shell Scripts (101 scripts for Linux, Mac OS X, and Unix Systems) by Dave Taylor. As part of my transition from the world of Windows I have decided to learn how to do some shell scripting. I figured that ‘wicked cool’ scripts would stoke my interest in the process as well as teach me the basics and I was right.
The design and format of a book is critical to me. A poorly designed layout will make it either difficult to learn or difficult to use as a reference after the initial reading. This book is very well designed. Every script example is numbered and broken down in to the following sections:
- The Code
- How It Works
- Running the Script
- The Results
- Hacking the Script
This break down makes it both easy to learn and easy to use as a reference.
In addition to a great design this book has tremendous content. There are some very valuable scripts covered in the book; some of the best include:
- #39 Analyzing Disk Usage
- #56 Managing Backups
- #60 Tracking BBC News with Lynx
- #61 Extracting URLs from a Web Page
- #62 Defining Words Online
- #65 Digging Up Movie Info from IMDb
- #68 Tracking Changes on Web Pages
- #78 Reporting Broken External Links
There were many more interesting examples, but I like the list above. I need to figure out how to ‘hack’ a few of them so I can retrieve NFL scores and stats (Fantasy Football anyone) by the fall.
It is my honest opinion that one should learn shell scripting to truly unlock the power of Linux and this book makes the task of learning both easy and fun. The book would also be valuable to experienced shell hackers who want to look at how these scripts are constructed to improve on their skills. I have two books shelves and this one will be on the one that is within my reach when I am using my computer.