1. Why this guide?
The primary reason for writing this document is that a lot of readers feel the existing HOWTO to be too short and incomplete, while the Bash Scripting guide is too much of a reference work. There is nothing in between these two extremes. I also wrote this guide on the general principal that not enough free basic courses are available, though they should be.
This is a practical guide which, while not always being too serious, tries to give real-life instead of theoretical examples. I partly wrote it because I don't get excited with stripped down and over-simplified examples written by people who know what they are talking about, showing some really cool Bash feature so much out of its context that you cannot ever use it in practical circumstances. You can read that sort of stuff after finishing this book, which contains exercises and examples that will help you survive in the real world.
From my experience as UNIX/Linux user, system administrator and trainer, I know that people can have years of daily interaction with their systems, without having the slightest knowledge of task automation. Thus they often think that UNIX is not userfriendly, and even worse, they get the impression that it is slow and old-fashioned. This problem is another one that can be remedied by this guide.