Image for post
Image for post

Ops Scripting w. BASH: Frequency

Tracking Frequency in BASH (Bourne Again Shell): Part I

Operations oriented roles, almost always require skills in automation and scripting with shell programming. These days with the ubiquity of Linux and GNU command line tools, GNU Bash has become ubiquitous.

Getting Bash 4+

If you have a recent Linux distro, such as Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, a current version of Bash 5 is already installed.


Apple’s macOS (aka Mac OS X) comes a very old 15-year old version of Bash. With Homebrew package manager, you can get a recent version of Bash:

brew install bash
sudo bash -c 'echo /usr/local/bin/bash >> /etc/shells'
chsh -s /usr/local/bin/bash


On Windows 10, we can use MSYS2 (Minimal System 2) that comes with a recent version of Bash. You can install MSYS2 with the package manager Chocolatey from either a command shell (cmd.exe) or PowerShell (powershell.exe) in Administrative mode:

choco install msys2

The Problem

The goal of this exercise is to print a summary of shell usage on a system. For this exercise, we’ll do it in two parts:

  1. Given the shell counts data structure COUNTS, produce a report.

The Data

Here’s the passwd file you will use for this exercise:


The Output

When generating a report, the output should look like this:

Shell Summary Report:
Shell # of Users
----------------- ------------
/bin/bash 3 users
/bin/false 7 users
/bin/sync 1 users
/usr/sbin/nologin 17 users

The Code

Here is sample code to get you started:

Code Notes

These are some of the techniques used in the code above.

Formatted Output

We printf command (see printf), which behaves like the C-Language counterpart:

printf "%s %s %s\n" STRING1 STRING2 STRING3


You can use repetition to print out, a line for example, using this technique:

printf '=%.0s' {1..10}

Enumerating Keys

The keys and values of an associative array in Bash can be enumerated with this notation:

KEYS   = "${!ASSOC_ARRAY[@]}"
SORTED_KEYS = $(echo ${![ASSOC_ARRAY[@]} | sort)

Referencing a Value

You can extract a value given a key like this:


Next Article

The Conclusion

For now, I’ll just present the problem, and next article I will present some solutions.

  • Enumerating Keys and Values from an associative array
  • Referencing (looking up) an item from the associative array
  • Formatted output with printf
  • Repetition using printf "%.0s=" {1..10} trick

Written by

Linux NinjaPants Automation Engineering Mutant — exploring DevOps, Kubernetes, CNI, IAC

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store