DirB, Directory Bookmarks for Bash
DirB's sl command prints a saved bookmark listing. It has two forms. The simplest form lists the files across the line, from left to right, in reverse time order, most recently accessed bookmark first:
% sl d test prod tmp beta alpha
In this example, the bookmark for my desktop, d, was accessed most recently.
In the longer form, sl lists the date and time that each bookmark was last referenced:
% sl -l 2010-03-10 14:42 d 2010-03-01 14:19 test 2010-02-27 10:17 prod 2010-02-27 14:21 tmp 2009-10-22 17:26 beta 2009-08-05 11:37 alpha
In this fuller listing, you can see that the d bookmark was referenced on March 10th, and the last time that the test bookmark was referenced was nine days earlier. If the long listing does not fit on a screen, the less command will page through the listing automatically.
It is possible to pass a regular expression to sl and list only the matching bookmarks. To list the saved bookmarks that begin with the letter t:
% sl "t*" test tmp % sl -l "t*" 2010-03-10 14:19 test 2010-02-27 14:21 tmp
Note that the regular expression needs to be protected by double (or single) quotes to prevent the shell from trying to expand it before it is seen by the sl command.
Whenever a bookmark is the target of a g, p or s command, its timestamp is updated to record the reference. However, timestamps are not updated when a directory is accessed using cd, pushd or by directory stack manipulations.
Directory bookmarks are so easy to make that I create them frequently. Many of my bookmarks are short-lived. If left unchecked, the saved bookmark listing would become very long and cluttered. DirB's r command simplifies the removal of unwanted bookmarks:
% sl test prod d tmp beta alpha % r alpha % sl test prod d tmp beta
The second saved bookmark listing shows that the r alpha removed the unwanted alpha bookmark.
DirB or the underlying Bash commands issue error messages when a problem is encountered. Accessing a deleted bookmark results in such a message:
% g alpha bash: cd: alpha: No such file or directory
This is the error message issued when a bookmark does not exist, possibly due to a misspelling.
Bookmarks save keystrokes and allow for fast movement between directories. Bookmarks also can be used to make scripts more portable. By referencing bookmarks, instead of fixed paths, it is possible to re-use scripts in different environments easily. I work on both Linux and Cygwin platforms. (Cygwin is a Linux-like environment for Windows platforms. For more information, or to download Cygwin, see www.cygwin.com.) Because Cygwin presents a very Linux-like look and feel, the transitions are painless. However, the Linux and Cygwin directory structures are different. I use DirB to set up the same list of common bookmarks on each system. This way, I can change between directories on the command line with the same keystrokes, regardless of the platform.
In addition to Linux and Cygwin environments, DirB has been tested on BSD UNIX and Mac OS X platforms. So, the flexibility of DirB bookmark references can span across a variety of systems.
The d command extends the DirB facility to shell scripts. (The d is short for either “display bookmark path” or “dereference bookmark path”, your choice.) It allows a script to obtain the full pathname of a bookmark's directory.
Bash's command substitution $(command) feature usually is used to access d:
% DTOP="$(d d)" % echo $DTOP /home/Desktop
The double quotes need to surround the shell substitution in case there are spaces in the directory path. Unfortunately, this is all too common on the Windows-based Cygwin platform, so I always use the quotes. In the above example, the shell variable $DTOP could be used to access the desktop. To create a new log file on the desktop, the output of a command could be redirected to $DTOP/logfile. Do not forget the double quotes, in case the dereferenced path includes spaces.
I recommend the use of Bash's substitution feature, as shown above. However, a shorter way to print out the name of the path is to use DirB's d command directly:
% d d /home/Desktop
- Linux Kernel Testing and Debugging
- Tails above the Rest, Part III
- Wanted: Your Embedded Linux Projects
- NSA: Linux Journal is an "extremist forum" and its readers get flagged for extra surveillance
- The 101 Uses of OpenSSH: Part I
- RSS Feeds
- Dolphins in the NSA Dragnet
- Are you an extremist?
- Tails above the Rest, Part II
- Pass on Passwords with scp