Julia Evans

New zine: Bite Size Command Line!

I released a new zine last week! It’s called “Bite Size Command Line”, and it’s explains the basics of a bunch of Unix command line tools! I learned some useful new things by writing it, and I hope you do too. You can get it for $10 at https://gum.co/bite-size-command-line. It’s the sequel to Bite Size Linux which I released in April.

If you want to get an idea of what’s in it, I’ve been posting the work-in-progress comics along the way on Twitter. You can see some of them on Twitter here.

Here’s the table of contents:

why I’m excited about this zine

Originally when I started working on this, I kind of didn’t think it was that exciting – I thought “whatever, I know command line tools, I’ve been using Linux for 15 years”.

It turns out that I learned quite a few fun new tricks! I learned about:

  • bash process substitution (diff <(ls) (ls -a)) which lets you avoid creating temporary files
  • sort -h (“human sort”) which lets you sort the output of du -sh correctly
  • the w option to ps will show all command line args, and f will show you a process tree (!!)
  • and a bunch more nice tidbits!

teaching the unix command line with less trial and error

But I’m particularly excited about the possibility that this can help beginners learn Linux! Most command line tools have a TON of command line arguments, and it’s often hard to tell by reading the man page which ones are crucial to know and which ones hardly anyone uses. I think a lot of this knowledge often gets passed down verbally, which makes it harder to learn if you don’t know many command line users. (if this is you, https://tldr.sh/ is also a cool resource!)

So the goal of this zine is basically to be your helpful, more experienced friend who’s been using these tools for a while and can tell you which bits are the most important.

IP addresses & routing A few recent podcasts