Fixed calculations in Unix scripts

Although I've already shown you how to sum numbers up in bash, I only covered the bash way of doing it. I really like scripting with bash, but when it comes to calculations, there's quite a few important features missing from bash, and fixed point (thanks for the correction, Azrael Tod!) calculations is one of them. Fortunately, bc command comes as a standard in most Unix distros, and can be used for quite complex calculations.

Basic calculations with bc

bc is a very simple command. It takes standard input as an expression and then evaluates this, performing all the necessary calculations and showing you the result. Thus, to quickly sum numbers up or get a result of some other calculation, simply echo the expression and then pipe it out to the bc command:

ubuntu$ echo "1+2" | bc

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Command Aliases in Unix shells

One of the really useful features almost every Unix shell has is support for command aliases – a way to run a command or a series of Unix commands using a shorter name you get associated with such commands.

An example of a command alias in Unix shell

Here's one of the most useful aliases I have for Solaris systems:

solaris$ alias ls='/usr/local/gnu/bin/ls --color -F'

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