Buying time   1 comment

Wearing both hats of developer and SysAdmin, I believe you shouldn’t work hard as a SysAdmin. It is for a reason that sometimes developers look at SysAdmins as inferior. It’s not because SysAdmins are really inferior, or has an easier job. I think it is mainly because a large portion of their workload could be automated. And if it can’t be automated (very little things), you should at least be able to do it quickly.

Obviously, we cannot buy time, but we can at least be efficient. In the following post I’ll introduce a few of my most useful aliases (or functions) I’d written and used in the last few years. Some of them are development related while the others could make you a happy SysAdmin.
You may find them childish – but trust me, sometimes the most childish alias is your best friend.

Jumping on the tree

Our subversion trunk really reminds me of a tree sometimes. The trunk is very thick, but it has many branches and eventually many leaves. While dealing with the leaves is rare, jumping on the branches is very common. Many times i have found myself typing a lot of ‘cd’ commands, where some are longer than others, repeatedly, just to get to a certain place. Here my stupid aliases come to help me.

lib takes me straight away to our libraries sub directory, where sim takes me to the simulators sub directory. Not to mention tr (shortcut for trunk), which takes me exactly to the sub directory where the sources are checked out. Oh, and pup which takes me to my puppet root, on my puppet master. Yes, I’m aware to the fact that you probably wonder now “Hey, is this guy going to teach me something new today? – Aliases are for babies!!”, I can identify. I didn’t come to teach you how to write aliases, I’m here to preach you to start using aliases. Ask yourself how many useful day-to-day aliases you really have defined. Do you have any at all? – Don’t be shy to answer no.

*nix jobs are diverse and heterogeneous, but let’s see if I can encourage you to write some useful aliases after all.
In case you need some ideas for aliases, run the following:

$ history | tr -s ' ' | cut -d' ' -f3- | sort | uniq -c | sort -n

Yes, this will show the count of the most recent commands you have used. Still not getting it? – OK, I’ll give you a hint, it should be similar to this:

$ alias recently_used_commands="history | tr -s ' ' | cut -d' ' -f3- | sort | uniq -c | sort -n"

If you did it – you’ve just kick-started your way to liberation. Enjoy.
As a dessert – my last childish alias:

$ alias rsrc='source ~/.bashrc'

Always useful if you want to re-source your .bashrc while working on some new aliases.

Two more things I must mention though:

  1. Enlarge your history size, I guess you can figure out alone how to do it.
  2. If you’re feeling generous – periodically collect the history files from your fellow team members (automatically of course, with another alias) and create aliases that will suit them too.

The serial SSHer

Our network is on 192.168.8.0/24. Many times I’ve found myself issuing commands like:

$ ssh root@192.168.8.1
$ ssh root@192.168.8.2
$ ssh root@192.168.8.3

Dozens of these in a single day. It was really frustrating. One day I decided to make an end to it:

# function for easier ssh
# $1 - network
# $2 - subnet
# $3 - host in subnet
_ssh_specific_network() {
	local network=$1; shift
	local subnet=$1; shift
	local host=$1; shift
	ssh root@$network.$subnet.$host
}

# easy ssh to 192.168.8.0/24
# $1 - host
_ssh_net_192_168_8() {
	local host=$1; shift
	_ssh_specific_network 192.168 8 $host
}
alias ssh8='_ssh_net_192_168_8'

Splendid, now I can run the following:

$ ssh8 1

Which is equal to:

$ ssh root@192.168.8.1

Childish, but extremely efficient. Do it also for other commands you would like to use, such as ping, telnet, rdesktop and many others.

The cop

Using KDE’s konsole? – I really like DCOP, let’s add some spice to the above function, we’ll rename the session name to the host we’ll ssh to, and then restore the session name back after logging out:

# returns session name
_konsole_get_session_name() {
	# using dcop - obtain session name
	dcop $KONSOLE_DCOP_SESSION sessionName
}

# renames a konsole session
# $1 - session name
_konsole_rename_session_name() {
	local session_name=$1; shift
	_konsole_store_session_name `_konsole_get_session_name`
	dcop $KONSOLE_DCOP_SESSION renameSession "$session_name"
}

# store the current session name
_konsole_store_session_name() {
	STORED_SESSION_NAME=`_konsole_get_session_name`
}

# restores session name
_konsole_restore_session_name() {
	if [ x"$STORED_SESSION_NAME" != x ]; then
		_konsole_rename_session_name "$STORED_SESSION_NAME"
	fi
}

# function for easier ssh
# $1 - network
# $2 - subnet
# $3 - host in subnet
_ssh_specific_network() {
	local network=$1; shift
	local subnet=$1; shift
	local host=$1; shift
	# rename the konsole session name
	_konsole_rename_session_name .$subnet.$host
	ssh root@$network.$subnet.$host
	# restore the konsole session name
	_konsole_restore_session_name
}

Extend it as needed, this is only the tip of the iceberg! I can assure you that my aliases are much more complex than these.

Finders keepers

For the next one I’m not taking full credit – this one belongs to Uri Sivan – obviously one of the better developers I’ve met along the way.
Grepping cpp files is essential, many times I’ve found myself looking for a function reference on all of our cpp files.
The following usually does it:

$ find . -name "*.cpp" | xargs grep -H -r 'HomeCake'

But seriously, do I look like someone that likes to work hard?

# $* - string to grep
grepcpp() {
	local grep_string="$*";
	local filename=""
	find . -name "*.cpp" -exec grep -l "$grep_string" "{}" ";" | while read filename; do
		echo "=== $filename"
		grep -C 3 --color=AUTO "$grep_string" "$filename"
		echo ""
	done
}

OK, let’s generalize it:

# grepping made easy, taken from the suri
# grepext - grep by extension
# $1 - extension of file
# $* - string to grep
_grepext() {
	local extension=$1; shift
	local grep_string="$*"
	local filename=""
	find . -name "*.${extension}" -exec grep -l "$grep_string" "{}" ";" | while read filename; do
		echo "=== $filename"
		grep -C 3 --color=AUTO "$grep_string" "$filename"
		echo ""
	done
}

# meta generate the grepext functions
declare -r GREPEXT_EXTENSIONS="h c cpp spec vpj sh php html js"
_meta_generate_grepext_functions() {
	local tmp_grepext_functions=`mktemp`
	local extension=$1; shift
	for extension in $GREPEXT_EXTENSIONS; do
		echo "grep$extension() {" >> $tmp_grepext_functions
		echo '  local grep_string=$*' >> $tmp_grepext_functions
		echo '  _grepext '"$extension"' "$grep_string"' >> $tmp_grepext_functions
		echo "}" >> $tmp_grepext_functions
	done
	source $tmp_grepext_functions
	rm -f $tmp_grepext_functions
}

After this, you have all of your C++/Bash/PHP/etc developers happy!

Time to showoff

My development environment is my theme park, here is my proof:

$ (env; declare -f; alias) | wc -l
2791

I encourage you to run this as well, if my line count is small and I’m bragging about something I shouldn’t – let me know!

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Posted August 21, 2009 by malkodan in Bash, Linux, System Administration

Tagged with , , , , , , , , ,

One response to “Buying time

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  1. Thanks for a nice post. I’m indeed too lazy to add aliases (which origin in laziness, I know it’s absurd), but I think you’ve just encouraged me to do so.

    Btw, I got confused for a minute in the “branches/leaves” analogy at the start, cuz svn DOES have real branches, but not leaves 🙂

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