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Viewing Session History in the bash Shell

Another cool feature of the bash shell is that it lets you easily reuse commands from your session history, which shows you the list of commands you've used during a session or in previous sessions (Code Listing 3.9). Viewing history is handy for reviewing your Unix session, using previous commands again (rather than retyping them), and modifying (rather than completely retyping) complex commands.

Code Listing 3.9. In this example, we typed the first command, then pressed to reuse the previous ls command. !40 recycled the 40th command from the listing.

[ejr@hobbes clean]$ ls
background.htm  info.htm     logo.gif
[ejr@hobbes clean]$ ls
background.htm  info.htm      logo.gif
[ejr@hobbes clean]$ history
   1  free
   2  id deb
   3  id ejr
   4  uname -a
   5  ls

...

  40  cd
  41  cp .bash_history oldhistory
  42  vi .bash_history
  43  elm
  44  ls -la
  45  ls -la .e*
  46  elm
  47  lynx
  48  history
  49  vi .bash*his*
  50  history
  51  cd clean
  52  ls
  53  ls
  54  history
[ejr@hobbes clean]$ !40
cd
[ejr@hobbes ejr]$

To view session history in the bash shell:

  1. Use the shell for a little while, changing directories, redirecting output, or doing other tasks.

    Take your time. We'll wait.

  2. Press uparrow.jpg one time.

    Note that the last (previous) command you used appears on the command line, as shown in Code Listing 3.9. To reissue the command, just press enter.jpg.

  3. Continue to press uparrow.jpg or downarrow.jpg to scroll back or forward through your history. When you reach a command you want to use, press enter.jpg.

    If you see a command that's close, but not exactly what you want to use, you can edit it. Just use the leftarrow.jpg and rightarrow.jpg keys to move across the line, insert text by typing it in, and use backspace.jpg or delete.jpg to delete text. When you've fixed the command, press enter.jpg (you don't have to be at the end of the line to do so).

  4. history

    Type history at the shell prompt to see a numbered list of previous commands you've entered.

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