Fw: [clug] beginners path

steve jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Sat Apr 25 03:07:40 GMT 2009

David Tulloh wrote on 24/4/09 7:28 PM:

> > Dave Upton wrote:

> > The bash manual is not very helpful to learn from so try and avoid it.
> >
> > All of the commands that you run will be documented.

> > Most of the commands use a similar syntax for arguments

> > The mastery comes from learning more commands that are available and
> > different ways that they can work. ...
> > It's also why so many people bring notebooks to Tridge's talks.

> > David

Agree with David T's advice. Well put & apposite.

commands use similar syntax because of 'getopt'/'getopts'. There is a
library and a bash inbuilt if you're scripting. There's a convention for
commands to have a 'usage' output (to stderr) if called with invalid
options or help. There are no conventions for options mnemonics  :-(

I've always found the 'SEE ALSO' section of man pages very helpful, esp
if I can't quite remember the name of a tool (eg I forget 'fold' often).

Unix/Posix used a single-dash. GNU introduced '--option' (and --help).
try both:
 'command -?' and
 'command --help'

GNU broke with Unix convention and put doco into a new format with a new
command, 'info'.
There are commands without without either info or man pages. This varies
between distros. Google is your friend. /usr/share/doc (?) is good too.

I use 'locate' extensively as well - helps you track down files, doco,
scripts, ...

'bash' has become huge. Learn a subset well...
It is worth reading the man-page in detail at some point.
When you want to do something unusual, you can hunt it down.

Related to this, I find there are commands & forms of pipelines that I
use frequently ('ls -ltr|tail', 'dd if=... count=1|file -', 'find...
|xargs', 'du -hs ...', 'df -h', 'du -k ... |sort -rn|head -20').

The flip side of this:
  things that you do very infrequently you *will* forget.

Tridge has his 'junkcode' directory. Useful snippets to use & reuse.

Finally, the most talented & productive programmer/admin I ever worked
with (never worked with Tridge) had a very simple & powerful 'trick'
that made him much more effective than others:

 - when he learnt something arcane or created something useful,
   he wrote himself a note, categorised and kept it.

In 1994, he used an organiser that he carried with him. Even had a
serial cable so he could upload more complex shell scripts etc.
Not sure what he does now.

He organised his notes to suit his style & memory, and captured just
'the essence' - notes for his personal use, not general doco. These
sorts of notes have value in their creation - laying down strong
'traces' for recall.

Hope something in there is useful to you.


Steve Jenkin, Info Tech, Systems and Design Specialist.
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin

More information about the linux mailing list