"Expecto Patronum" (or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Command Line)

Think about it. Linux commands are grown-up versions of Harry Potter spells.

  • Both use strange-sounding words and phrases
  • Both can do some pretty amazing things
  • You can combine and chain them to do even more amazing things
  • Both can get you into Big Trouble if misused
  • Documentation is quite ancient and difficult to understand
  • Muggles and mortals have a deep-seated irrational fear of them

Do you really want to scare your Drupal dev team? Forget object-oriented PHP, exported views, and responsive theming. Ask them to work at a Linux command line for ten minutes, and watch them run for cover. Many large and notable companies make a great deal of money by insulating web developers from the command line.  But you can get comfortable with the command line in an hour.

Which is what we are going to do. This session demonstrates several powerful Linux command-line approaches to solving Drupal-related problems.

This session assumes you are familiar with Linux command-line basics, such as logging-in to a system, editing a text file, and creating/changing directories. 

The session covers the following areas:

  • Safety: Power tools can be extremely dangerous. Make backups, practice in sandboxes, and always have a recovery strategy in case something goes wrong.
  • Quickly copying files and directories between systems using scp and tar
  • Searching through dozens of compressed server logs for a particular string (zgrep, wc)
  • Chaning commands together with a pipe
  • Realtime monitoring and flitering of server logs (tail, grep)
  • Sending email from the command line -- with and without attachments (mail)
  • Manipulating graphics (convert)
  • Using history and bash aliases
  • Finding the location of a string anywhere in the Drupal file system or MySQL database (grep, fgrep)
  • Debugging: Finding exactly what databased changes occurred during a Drupal operation (mysqldump, dircmp, diff)
  • There's a Linux Command For That!  - Getting more information when you are hopelessly lost --  (man, apropos)
  • How To Automate anything (cron)
  • Some Fun commands (fortune, figlet, cowsay)


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Brief Bio: Charles Jackson has been living on a variety of UNIX command lines since 1985. He is currently the Senior Web Manager for Fujifilm SonoSite.

Session Track: 
Tools & Techniques
Experience level: