Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

Recently someone asked me about accepting bash inputs. So I decided to take a stab at writing a little about it up. For the initial one we’ll look at accepting text input. Here, we’ll just sandwich a read statement between two echo commands. In the first echo we’ll ask for a name of a variable. Then we’ll read it in with the read command. And in the second echo we’ll write it out. Using the variable involves using the string of the variable (myvariable in this case) with a dollar sign in front of it, as in $myvariable below:

echo "Please choose a number: "
read myvariable
echo "You picked $myvariable"

Read also has a number of flags available to it:

  • -a assigns sequential indexes of the array variable
  • -d sets a delimiter to terminate the input
  • -e accepts the line.
  • -n returns after reading a specified number of characters
  • -p prompts without a trailing newline, before attempting to read any input
  • -r doesn’t use a backslash as an escape character
  • -s runs silent, which doesn’t echo text
  • -t: causes read to time out (number of seconds is right after the -t)
  • -u reads input from a file descriptor

Next, we’ll build on that read statement (note the addition of -p) and use a while to force a user to input a y or n and then parse their selection with a basic case statement:

while true;
read -p "Do you wish to continue?" yn
case $yn in
[Yy]* ) echo "Add your action here"; break;;
[Nn]* ) exit;;
* ) echo "Please answer yes or no.";;

Finally, let’s look at positional parameters. Here, you can feed them at the tail end of the script, as words that are separated by spaces after the name of the script. Here, we simply just echo $0, which is the first position (aka – the name of the script you just ran) and $1 and $2 as the next two.

echo "You Used These"
echo '$0 = ' $0
echo '$1 = ' $1
echo '$2 = ' $2

You could also take $3, $4, etc. This is different than writing flags, which requires a bit more scripting. So if you called the script with:

/path/to/script/ test1

You would see:

You Used These
$0 = ./
$1 = test1

What tips/additions do you have?

February 14th, 2017

Posted In: bash, Unix

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One Comment

So I comment a lot of lines out in my /etc/hosts file. This usually means that I end up with a lot of cruft at the top of my file. And while I write comments into files and scripts here and there, I don’t always want to see them. So I can grep them out by piping the output of the file to grep as follows:

cat /etc/hosts | grep -v "^#"

You could also do the same, eliminating all lines that start with a “v” instead:

cat !$ | grep -v "^v"

February 13th, 2017

Posted In: Mac OS X, Unix

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One Comment

When you’re regression testing, you frequently just don’t want any delays for scripts unless you intentionally sleep your scripts. By default Safari has an internal delay that I’d totally forgotten about. So if your GUI scripts (yes, I know, yuck) are taking too long to run, check this out and see if it helps:

defaults write WebKitInitialTimedLayoutDelay 0

With a script I was recently working on, this made the thing take about an hour less. Might help for your stuffs, might not.

If not, to undo:

defaults delete WebKitInitialTimedLayoutDelay


February 1st, 2017

Posted In: Mac OS X Server, Mac Security

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Dropping network connections can be incredibly frustrating. And finding the source can be a challenge. Over the years, I’ve found a number of troubleshooting methods, but the intermittent drop can be the worse to troubleshoot around. When this happens, I’ve occasionally resorted to scripting around failures, and dumping information into a log file to find the issue. For example, you may find that when a network connection fails, you have a very strong signal somewhere, or that you have a very weak signal on all networks.

I’ve found there are three pretty simple commands to test joining/unjoining, and using networks (beyond the standard pings or port scans on hosts). The first is the airport command, along with –disassociate. This just unjoins all networks:

sudo /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/A/Resources/airport --disassociate

The second is a quick scan. Here, I’ve grep’d out the network I’m after (aka SSIDofNetwork – a very likely wireless network name), but when looking for environmental issues, you might choose to parse this into a csv and output all networks:

sudo /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/A/Resources/airport -s | grep SSIDofNetwork

Finally, you can join a network. You might have to escape out special characters in a password and it’s never wise to put a password into a script, etc. But, quick and dirty, this will join that SSIDofNetwork network:

sudo networksetup -setairportnetwork en0 "SSIDofNetwork" mysecretpassword

Anyway, loop it, invoke it however you invoke it, etc. Hope this helps someone, and if you have other tricks you’ve found helpful, feel free to throw them in the ‘ole comments!

How Users Feel About Intermittent Networking Issues

August 26th, 2016

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Network Infrastructure, Programming

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Just a quick one-liner. Enjoy.

profiles -Cv | grep Enrollment | awk '{ s = ""; for (i = 5; i <= NF; i++) s = s $i " "; print s }'

August 20th, 2016

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Mass Deployment

Tags: ,

There are a lot of scripts stored on github. And you can run them directly by curling them into bash. To do so, you’ll need a link to the raw script (using the github page with the URL of the script brings in all the cruft, so you’ll need to find the raw text). To grab that, click on the page with the script and then right-click  on Raw, as seen here:

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 11.21.48 PM

Then, throw out a bash command followed by < and then the URL you just copied into your clipboard in parenthesis:

bash <(curl -Ls

April 20th, 2016

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Ubuntu, Unix

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When I’m working on a little bash script, I’ll often make a backup, each time I save and test. Then I can revert back, if I need to. The syntax I’ll use is to cp and then curly-bracket the output into .bak files (that’s a 90s era file extension I use for such nonsense):


So if I’m writing a script called


The resultant backup of the script is

March 22nd, 2016

Posted In: Mac OS X, Unix

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Pretty much every script I’m working on these days must be run as root. Checking what user is running something is pretty straight forward, as there’s a built-in shell variable for $USER that contains the user running a script. To see this real quick, simply run the following:

echo $USER

You can then put this into your scripts. I’ve been using the same block of code for decades, which can be run in a script by itself if you’d like to paste this into one.

if [[ $USER != "root" ]]; then
echo "This script must be run as root"
echo "You are root"
exit 1

Note: Keep in mind that the built-in $USER variable is case sensitive.

Obviously, most people won’t keep the lines that contain the else and you are root echo statements. You can just remove these or replace them with the meat of your script that requires elevated privileges to run. Enjoy.

December 21st, 2015

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Mass Deployment, Unix

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We tend to use a lot of commands in the Terminal app. That is, after all, what it’s there fore. And there’s a nice history of what we do. There are also a number of ways to view and manage the bash history. The simplest of which is the history command, which will show the previous commands run. Here, we’ll simply run it:


Keep in mind that this shows the history based on context, so if you sudo bash, you’ll potentially see a different history. You can also use the bash built-in fc command, which has the additional awesomeness of being able to edit and re-run commands from the history. To start, we’ll simply look at showing the last 16 commands using the -l option:

fc -l

You can also constraint entries in the output by specific line numbers. For example, to see lines 12 through 18, simply use them as the first two positions of the command after fc:

fc 12 18

You can load the history into an editor and remove or add entries using fc without any options:


To exit the editor, hit control-z. I’ve written in the past about using substitution. For example, sudo !! to run the last command. fc can do some basic substitution as well. For example, use the -s to start substation and then enter a string, which will append whatever you like before a command. So the following would put sudo in front and re-run the previous command:

fc -s sudo

And let’s say that you were doing a find for a string of krypted. To then swap that string with charles:

fc -s krypted=charles

Overall, the bash history can be incredibly useful. I frequently pipe the output of a series of lines into a new file with a .sh at the end as a starting point for scripts and use these substitution options to save myself a bunch of time not retyping longer commands. Enjoy.

August 14th, 2015

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Mass Deployment, Ubuntu, Unix

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The cd command has lots of fun little shortcuts. One I use frequently is the -. The ~ always takes you to your home directory, but using cd – will take you to the last directory you were in. For example, if you do the following on a Mac:

cd ~

Then you do .. (which is a shortcut for the directory above the one you’re in):

cd ..

Then pwd will show that you’re in /Users. But, if you cd to – again:

cd -

Now you’re back in your home folder. The – expands to OLDPWD. Quick tip. Nothing more to see here.

July 20th, 2015

Posted In: Mac OS X, Ubuntu, Unix

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