Work the Shell - Analyzing Log Files

Ever wondered what your Web server is doing, but find that you don't have a stats or analytics package installed? In fact, analyzing log files is a perfect task for the Linux command line and, by extension, shell scripts too.

(Yes, yes, I know that the URLs on this site are ridiculously long!)

Now, finally, I can see that the articles about the Motorola RAR phone, AOL screen names and Sony PSP are the most popular articles on the site. Remember, this is a slice for only about six hours too, so the RAZR article is actually being requested an impressive once a minute or so. Popular indeed!

I'm going to stop here now that you've had a taste of how basic Linux commands can be combined to extract useful and interesting data from an Apache log file. Next month, we'll look at one more statistic: how much aggregate data we've transferred. Then, we'll start looking at how to build a shell script that does these sorts of calculations with ease.

Dave Taylor is a 26-year veteran of UNIX, creator of The Elm Mail System, and most recently author of both the best-selling Wicked Cool Shell Scripts and Teach Yourself Unix in 24 Hours, among his 16 technical books. His main Web site is at www.intuitive.com.

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Dave Taylor has been hacking shell scripts for over thirty years. Really. He's the author of the popular "Wicked Cool Shell Scripts" and can be found on Twitter as @DaveTaylor and more generally at www.DaveTaylorOnline.com.

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