Seasoned Linux professionals thoroughly know data formats: it is mandatory since these formats are used by many tools as:

  • output format (CSV, XML, JSON, …)
  • the format for their settings files (YAML, TOML, XML, JSON, INI, …)
  • the format of the document to be sent to an API (XML by SOAP, JSON by REST)

It is straightforward that is mandatory to be familiar to Regular Expressions: many legacy tools like grep (in all of its flavours, such as egrep) and sed use them as pattern matching criteria. They should also know how to leverage on awk when a little bit of business logic is needed while processing data, and of course know most of the so called “coreutils” (sort, cut, wc, uniq, …). Modern Linux professionals are also skilled on format specific tools such as xpath and xmlstarlet (XML), jq (JSON) or yq (YAML).

In addition to that, Linux professionals should also have a thorough understanding of:

  • encryption technologies that guarantee data integrity and confidentiality on the disk (openssl, GPG, PGP, …)
  • encryption technologies that guarantee data integrity and confidentiality on the wire (TLS, X.509 certificates, Public Key Infrastructure
  • design patterns that exploit encryption technologies, such as Shamir’s Secret Sharing
  • Cryptographic API, such as PKCS#11

Honestly, in my experience, I saw too many technicians neglecting this topic, but believe me, this can be very dangerous.


The aim of this post is showing a tidy way to structure a C o C++ project managing the build lifecycle using the GNU Make and packaging it as RPM.

The post demonstrates a full featured C project managed by make and packaged as RPM, showing how to set up a tidy structure, develop and package a C application with its own shared objects, that reads the configuration from a file, validates settings, logs events into a file and handles error conditions printing to standard error and setting properly shell return code.

This post is certainly useful not only to developers, but to anybody who wants to learn how to build third part C or C++ software, since it clearly describes the compilation and linking process. In addition to that, we also learn how to create the product certificate that  can be exploited by the subscription-manager to know that the product is installed on the system.

The application is then packaged, besides as a gzipped tarball, also as RPM, creating the application package, the package with the development resource files (the C include files) and the package with the debug information that can be used with a debugger to troubleshoot things.

This post is focused on the C programming language, but the very most of the concepts related to  the build life-cycle managed with GNU Make shown apply to C++ too: I chose C only to show a way of doing things that works also with a legacy (but yet powerful) programming language. In addition to that, be wary that I'm striving to cover most of the scenarios: this means that I'm showing things that are not always necessary in every use case.

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Sed is a command line tool that can really do amazing stream manipulations: despite it certainly being a "seasoned" tool, it is very likely that there are a lot of sed one-liners inside your Company's scripts.

Having at least an understanding of it is a must if you want to be able to maintain this legacy stuff that very often is not worth the effort to rework.

And anyway, when having to deal with quick and dirty solutions that rely on shell scripts, or when writing documentation with shell commands that can be easily replaced by a copy and paste by the reader... it's still an excellent tool honestly I cannot work without.

The aim of this post is to provide an easy tutorial to quickly learn how to use sed in every situation that can be easily sorted out with a sed one-liner.

In memory of Lee E. McMahon, contributor to early versions of the Unix operating system, ... and of course in particular of the sed stream editor.

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Despite it is a boring task, comparing file is a need that sometimes IT professionals have to deal with: there are many reasons for having to deal with this:

  • verify if a file has been corrupted
  • verify if a file has been tampered
  • compare two versions of a configuration file to see where they differ - this happens quite often when after a configuration modification an application stops working as it should and you have to guess why
  • generate a patch that can be used to go back and forth to current and previous version of the same files

and so on.

This post explains how to deal with these needs on Linux using the tools provided by the Linux distribution.

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YAML is a must-have skill for IT professionals, since it is probably becoming the the most commonly used document format for manifest and configuration files - think for example to Kubernetes, Ansible and a lot of other modern Dev-Ops oriented or CI/CD tools such as drone.

Being skilled on YAML does not only mean being able to write YAML documents, but also efficiently query and manipulate YAML files.

This post provides everything it is very likely you must know to exploit YAML in your daily work, explaining its syntax and showing things in action by using yq - a tool we can consider "the jq for YAML", and using Python with PyYAML.

By the way, this post is part of a trilogy of posts dedicated to markup and serialization formats, so be sure not to miss

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JSON is a must-have skill for IT professionals, since it is probably the most used document format when dealing with AJAX and with REST web-services: since both of them are broadly used on the web, it is very likely that sooner or later you'll ever have to deal with it.

Being skilled on JSON does not only mean being able to write JSON documents, but also knowing how to exploit tools such as jq to extract values or even a subset from a JSON document.

Having these skills makes your life easier not only if you are a developer, but also if you are involved in the system integration field.

This post is an overview about all you must know about JSON and how to work with it using jq.

By the way, this post is part of a trilogy of posts dedicated to markup and serialization formats, so be sure not to miss

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XML is a must-have skill for every professional: it is still broadly used by application protocols such as SOAP or SAML, or by description languages such as WSDL. By the way it is not something that is bound only to the application integration field: several applications relies on XML based configuration files and Blueprints, think for example to Apache Tomcat configuration files ("server.xml", "context.xml", ...), OSGI Blueprints such as a JAAS configuration, or again to Maven POM files or SCAP files (OVAL, XCCDF, ...).
The aim of this post is to provide a good overview of XML, explaining its goals, how to enforce it using schemas and generate a human-readable view of an XML file using XSLT.

The post also provides an overview of the XPath query language with some examples using the xpath command line tool. It shows you how to modify XML nodes and attributes using the xmlstarlet command line tool.

By the way, this post is part of a trilogy of posts dedicated to markup and serialization formats, so be sure not to miss

Of course these things would deserve a whole book, ... but as usual I try to be synthetic, showing you only the things that are really likely you'll sooner or later come across when working with XML, and giving tips on where to find more information on each topic.

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