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Ruby for system administrators

Jul 19, 2010, 14:36 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Koen Vervloesem)

[ Thanks to Linux User & Developer magazine for this link. ]

"Most Linux and UNIX system administrators use a diverse mix of shell scripts and tools like grep, awk, cut and so on. The classical approach has proven its merits, but these scripts are generally not easy to read or to maintain. One solution is to use a real programming language for system administration tasks. In a complex environment, system administration can become much easier with a real programming language instead of shell scripts. Traditionally, Perl has been very popular among sysadmins, but some people maintain that this is not much better than shell.

"In this article, we choose Ruby, a feature-rich but simple object-oriented programming language known from the popular web application framework Ruby on Rails. The Ruby programming language has many built-in and external libraries that can come in handy for typical system administration tasks such as file manipulation and text processing, log file analysis, logging into other servers, and so on. The gentle learning curve of this programming language, coupled to the easy-to-read and maintainable form of the scripts, makes this a valid choice for sysadmins.

"Simple but effective
Let's start with some basic features of the language, to show you why Ruby is in many cases a better choice than Perl or a shell script. First of all, everything in Ruby is an object, even primitive types such as numbers and strings."

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