Linux Journal: “Dogs” of the Linux Shell

“One incarnation of the so called 80/20 rule has been associated
with software systems. It has been observed that 80% of a user
population regularly uses only 20% of a system’s features. Without
backing this up with hard statistics, my 20+ years of building and
using software systems tells me that this hypothesis is probably
true. The collection of Linux command-line programs is no exception
to this generalization. Of the dozens of shell-level commands
offered by Linux, perhaps only ten commands are commonly understood
and utilized, and the remaining majority are virtually ignored.

“Which of these dogs of the Linux shell have the most value to
offer? I’ll briefly describe ten of the less popular but useful
Linux shell commands, those which I have gotten some mileage from
over the years. Specifically, I’ve chosen to focus on commands that
parse and format textual content.

“The working examples presented here assume a basic familiarity
with command-line syntax, simple shell constructs and some of the
not-so-uncommon Linux commands. Even so, the command-line examples
are fairly well commented and straightforward. Whenever practical,
the output of usage examples is presented under each command-line


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