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Learning the bash Shell, Second Edition by Bill Rosenblatt, Cameron Newham

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readline

bash’s command-line editing interface is readline. It is actually a library of software developed for the GNU project that can be used by applications requiring a text-based interface. It provides editing and text-manipulation features to make it easier for the user to enter and edit text. Just as importantly, it allows standardization, in terms of both key strokes and customization methods, across all applications that use it.

readline provides default editing in either of two modes: vi or emacs. Both modes provide a subset of the editing commands found in the full editors. We’ve already looked at the command sets of these modes in the previous sections of this chapter. We’ll now look at how you can make your own command sets.

readline gives bash added flexibility compared to other shells because it can be customized through the use of key bindings, either from the command line or in a special startup file. You can also set readline variables. We’ll see how you can set up readline using your own startup file now, and then go on to examine how the binding capability can be used from the command line.

The readline Startup File

The default startup file is called .inputrc and must exist in your home directory if you wish to customize readline. You can change the default filename by setting the environment variable INPUTRC (see Chapter 3 for further information on environment variables).

When bash starts up, it reads the startup file (if there is one) and any settings there ...

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