Linux Format

AI coded Bash scripts

Use ChatGPT to make your life easier by asking it the right questions.


Bash scripting is a cornerston­e of the Unix and Linux world. It empowers developers, system administra­tors and even casual users to automate tasks, process data and manage systems. But what if you could supercharg­e your scripting with the power of AI? It can turn out scripts faster than a human can. You just have to know how to ask the system nicely to do it for you.

The essence of harnessing AI capabiliti­es in Bash scripting lies in crafting the right prompts. Prompts can be thought of as asking the right question in a wellthough­t-out pattern. With effective prompts, admins can make the most of the model, helping to create powerful, efficient and clean Bash scripts. Here’s how…

Clearly define your objectives: Before querying the AI system, it’s vital to have a clear understand­ing of what the want the Bash script needs to achieve. Are you looking to automate a system task? Process and analyse a set of data? Define it in clear terms.

Break it down: ChatGPT works best when provided with specific, pointed questions. Instead of asking, “How do I write a Bash script that automates my • system backups?” break it down:

• “How do I check available disk space in Bash?” “How do I compress files in a specific directory • in Bash?”

“How can I log results of a Bash script execution?” By deconstruc­ting the main objective into smaller tasks, you can feed these to ChatGPT and assemble the responses to build a comprehens­ive script.

Be explicit with requiremen­ts: An AI’s vast knowledge comes with a price: ambiguity can lead it astray. Instead of saying, “I want a command to list files” be explicit: “I need a Bash command to recursivel­y list all the PDF files in a directory.”

Set the context right: The opening line of a prompt should set the context. If working on a Bash script, mention it. For instance, start with: “In the context of Bash scripting…” This ensures the responses are tailored for Bash and not some other environmen­t.

Seek best practices: When inquiring about scripting techniques, always ask for best practices. For example: “What’s the best practice to handle errors in Bash scripts?” This ensures not only a decent solution but one that is widely recognised as efficient and correct in the industry.

Iterate and refine: The first prompt might not fetch the desired answer. If the output isn’t satisfacto­ry, refine the prompt. Add details, rephrase or specify a particular aspect you want to focus on. Iterative prompting helps zero in on the precise solution.

Harness ChatGPT’s example: Sometimes, the best way to understand a concept is through examples. Don’t hesitate to ask ChatGPT for examples. “Can you provide an example of a Bash loop that iterates over all files in a directory?” will give you a piece of code you can experiment with and integrate into your script.

Prompt sequencing: After getting an answer, dive deeper or ask follow-up questions. Build a sequence of prompts that progressiv­ely tackle a problem. This way, you’re not just getting fragmented solutions but a streamline­d guide to achieving your script’s goal.

Avoid over-complexity: Although it’s tempting to ask for intricate solutions, remember that the best scripts are often the simplest. They are easier to maintain, understand and debug. Ask ChatGPT for the most straightfo­rward solution to a problem, unless complexity is explicitly needed.

Actual intelligen­ce

Perfecting the art of prompting ensures you harness the full potential of ChatGPT in creating Bash scripts that are efficient, robust and tailored to your needs.

The bit that will blow your mind? It’s not just Bash. It works as well with PowerShell and any script-type language. To give an example, within an hour, we got ChatGPT to create a post-installati­on script for Windows to do a lot of the post-configurat­ion work, including configurin­g IP, DNS and adding the VM.

This is the start of your AI coding journey. Embrace it but do remember to read the rules of the road.

 ?? ?? AI can help generate nontrivial scripts. You just need to know how to ask for them.
AI can help generate nontrivial scripts. You just need to know how to ask for them.
 ?? ?? Everyone should trust but verify what AI says. Even the AI admits it.
Everyone should trust but verify what AI says. Even the AI admits it.

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