Mastering native tools in UNIX

This post is more of a reminder than anything instructional, and it stemmed from an experience I had this weekend migrating a daycare center’s website and its products entire infrastructure to the cloud. As it turned out, I was stuck on a gcloud shell with nothing but the bare tools in that box, and it solidified for me the title of this post. A lot my professional colleagues always inquire into why I use a minimal vimrc even though I also have a “full-blown” vimrc as well, or me not using great tools like ripgrep and fzf for text manipulation, or the way I set up my networking with plain ‘ol systemd service files, etc.

And everything that I was subjecting myself to on a daily basis with my workflow paid tremendously this weekend. Let me give you a quick example:

I tend to use cat, echo and HEREDOCS for quick configuration one-liners to avoid opening a vim session or just to stay on the actual shell. During one of these cat editing sessions, I wrote a for loop that made too many extra changes across the filesystem. Which meant that major sed replacements would be required to make the changes persist. Now normally, tools like ripgrep and fzf are great due to its speed and ease of use, and that would be what most people recommend. However, under a slow connection, a gshell cloud, speed of execution, a native solution is required. The solution: Vim!

I spun up a vim session on the etc directory, and ran a quick:

:args `find . -type f` #this build the arglist and sets up Ex's special var: ##
:argdo g/^\[\]/s/\[Units\]/\[Unit\]/gc ## | update

and voila! I was able to make those changes with confirmation in the process.


I cannot stress enough how important it is to be extremely comfortable with the native tools in a *nix-based OS. My choice is Vim if i had to pick just one to take with, since it includes so much out of the box, and I like the visual aspect of everything it offers. Therefore, my decision to really really grok Vim/Vi and all of its native features always pulls me out of pinch since it has its own grep, poor man's xargs, build system through make, gdb integration support and of course, the most important piece: shell integration




Ex special variables

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