Basics of Bash Scripting

  • Execution of commands and control flow expressions
  • Variables, control flow, and unique syntax
  • Tailored for shell-related tasks

Variables and Strings in Bash

  • Assign with foo=bar
  • Access values with $foo
  • Differentiating ' and " for strings

echo "$foo"  # prints bar
echo '$foo'  # prints $foo

Special Variables in Bash

  • $0 - Name of the script
  • $1 to $9 - Arguments to the script. $1 is the first argument and so on.
  • $@ - All the arguments
  • $# - Number of arguments
  • $? - Return code of the previous command
  • $$ - Process identification number (PID) for the current script
  • !! - Entire last command, including arguments. A common pattern is to execute a command only for it to fail due to missing permissions; you can quickly re-execute the command with sudo by doing sudo !!
  • $_ - Last argument from the last command. If you are in an interactive shell, you can also quickly get this value by typing Esc followed by . or Alt+.
  • Comprehensive list: Special Chars in Bash

Command Execution and Return Codes

  • Conditional execution with &&, ||, ;
  • Understanding true and false commands
false || echo "Oops, fail"
# Oops, fail
true || echo "Will not be printed"
true && echo "Things went well"
# Things went well
false && echo "Will not be printed"
true ; echo "This will always run"
# This will always run
false ; echo "This will always run"
# This will always run

Permissions – brief recap

Unix-like permissions are:

  1. Read (r): Open and read a file. List contents for directories.
  2. Write (w): Modify a file’s contents. Add, remove, rename files in directories.
  3. Execute (x): Execute a file as a program/script. Access or traverse directories.

Grouped by 3 user categories:

  • User (u): The owner of the file.
  • Group (g): Users in the file’s group.
  • Other (o): Users not the owner or in the file’s group.

Default permissions

When a file is created in Unix, default permissions are usually:

  • Read and Write for the User (rw-)
  • Read for the Group (r—)
  • Read for Others (r—)

Depicted as: rw-r--r--

Script Example

  • Prefer [[ ]] for comparisons
echo "Starting program at $(date)" # Date will be substituted
echo "Running program $0 with $# arguments with pid $$"
for file in "$@"; do
    grep foobar "$file" > /dev/null 2> /dev/null
    # When pattern is not found, grep has exit status 1
    # We redirect STDOUT and STDERR to a null register since we do not care about them
    if [[ $? -ne 0 ]]; then
        echo "File $file does not have any foobar, adding one"
        echo "# foobar" >> "$file"

Command substitution using $( CMD )

    GNUPGHOME="$(mktemp -d)" && \
    export GNUPGHOME && \
    for key in \
        "B46DC71E03FEEB7F89D1F2491F7A8F87B9D8F501" \
      ; do \
        gpg --batch --keyserver "" --recv-keys "$key" ; \
    done && \
    gpg --verify "/tmp/$QD_NAME.tar.gz.sha256.asc" "/tmp/$QD_NAME.tar.gz.sha256" && \
    (cd /tmp && sha256sum --check --status "$QD_NAME.tar.gz.sha256") && \

Control Flow and Functions

  • Supports if, case, while, for
  • Function example: Creating and entering a directory
mcd () {
    mkdir -p "$1"
    cd "$1"

Shell Functions vs Scripts

  • Functions are in the shell’s language; scripts can be in any language.
  • Functions load once; scripts load each execution.
  • Functions can modify the environment; scripts cannot, but receive exported variables.
  • Functions promote code modularity, reuse, and clarity, and are often included in scripts.

Bash Comparisons and Globbing

  • Globbing with wildcards ?, *, and {}

Shell Tools

Discovering Command Usage

  • Using --help, man command, and TLDR pages
  • Example: man rm, tldr tar

Finding Files

  • Tools: find, fd, locate
  • Usage scenarios for each

Finding Code

  • grep and alternatives like ack, ag, rg
  • Pattern searching examples

Finding Shell Commands

  • Utilizing history, Ctrl+R, fzf bindings
  • Autosuggestions and protecting sensitive history entries

Directory Navigation

  • Fast navigation with fasd, autojump
  • Advanced tools: tree, broot, nnn, ranger