Session: Bash Configuration and Usage (Extended Session)

The Bash shell is the default shell for almost every Linux distribution. As the Lazy SysAdmin, understanding and using the available tools to configure the Bash shell can enhance and simplify our command line experience.

In this session, which is largely based on Chapter 17 of my book, Using and Administering Linux: Volume 1 – Zero to SysAdmin: Getting Started, you will explore the several Bash configuration files for both global configuration and for users’ local configuration. You will perform simple experiments to determine the sequence in which the Bash configuration files are executed when the shell is launched.

You will explore environment variables and shell variables such as $PATH, $?, $EDITOR, and more and how they contribute to the behavior of the shell itself and the programs that run in a shell.

In this session you will learn:

  • The difference between a login shell and a non-login shell. In the interest of clearing up any confusion we will also learn about the nologin shell.
  • How the Bash shell is configured
  • How to modify the configuration of the Bash shell
  • Which Bash configuration scripts are run when it is launched as a login shell and as a non-login shell
  • The names and locations of the files used to configure Linux shells at both global and user levels
  • Which shell configuration files should not be changed
  • How to set shell options
  • How to set environment variables from the command line
  • How to set environment variables using shell configuration files
  • The function of aliases and how to set them
  • How to have some fun on the Bash command line

Pre Event Requirements

This will be a fast-paced session but if you wish to follow along at the command line you can bring a laptop with the following installed or configured prior to arrival.

  • Physical laptop hardware or a VM with Linux installed. Current releases of VirtualBox, and Fedora or Ubuntu are recommended.
  • A non-production user such as “student” should be created

The following Linux software should be installed.

  • On either Fedora or Ubuntu:
    • Your favorite terminal emulator
    • bash fortune boxes zsh ksh csh sl lolcat cowsay asciiquarium
  • On Ubuntu
    • sysvbanner
  • On Fedora
    • banner

A tarball containing the presentation and supporting files will be made available during or shortly after this session.

Session Speakers:

David Both

I am an Open Source Software and GNU/Linux advocate, trainer, writer, and speaker. I have been working with Linux and Open Source Software for almost 25 years. I am a strong proponent of and evange [Read More]