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

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What’s in the Archive

The bash archive contains a main directory (bash-2.01 for the current version) and a set of files and subdirectories. Among the first files you should examine are:

  • MANIFEST, a list of all the files and directories in the archive

  • COPYING, the GNU Copyleft for bash

  • NEWS, a list of bug fixes and new features since the last version

  • README, a short introduction and instructions for compiling bash

You should also be aware of two directories:

  • doc, information related to bash in various formats

  • examples, examples of startup files, scripts, and functions

The other files and directories in the archive are mostly things that are needed during the build. Unless you are going to go hacking into the internal workings of the shell, they shouldn’t concern you.

Documentation

The doc directory contains a few articles that are worth reading. Indeed, it would be well worth printing out the manual entry for bash so you can use it in conjunction with this book. The README file gives a short summary of what the files are.

The document you’ll most often use is the manual page entry (bash.1). The file is in troff format—that used by the manual pages. You can read it by processing it with the text-formatter nroff and piping the output to a pager utility: nroff -man bash.1 | more should do the trick. You can also print it off by piping it to the lineprinter (lp). This summarizes all of the facilities your version of bash has and is the most up-to-date reference you can get. This document ...

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