Monday, August 22, 2011

The End of Bash Scripts?

Bash is a command processor, typically run as text commands, allowing the user to type commands which cause actions – start programs, check files, check machine status etc. In the HPC world, Bash scripts have become one of the main tools of administrators and users to help maintain, administer, and create clustered systems. The basis for these scripts is often shared in books, articles, and on public mailing lists. Tutorial on Bash programming can be found at:

As described in details on ClusterMonkey by Douglas Eadline (, there is a battle now over Bash scripts in a Kansas courtroom. A Linux cluster vendor, Atipa Technologies is claiming all the Bash scripts they shipped to customers contain trade secrets and were stolen by former employees. Should this issue be decided in Atipa's favor, the fundamental idea of shared and open software could be blanketed by the simple claim of trade secrets. You can find the rest of the details (and Doug listed each one of them…) on Doug’s web site.

One of the driving forces behind HPC Clusters is the open source or open community. I hope that it stays like that moving forward. Open source does not mean free stuff, but it means the capability to share and develop together.The end of Bash scripts? I hope not...


  1. I don't really undestand you. Bash allows you to develop some logic, that is named a program. You can call it a script, that's the same thing. There are many languages assimilated as scripts like, python, ruby, even java in some ways.
    What is done with it can be protected (copyrights, restricted rights, GPL, etc.), but the language itself has its own protection, and most of the languages allows you to write proprietary code, even if you can read it (text file).
    So I don't see any danger in coding in bash...

  2. You are correct. The issue discussed here is that a company claims that Bash scripts used to provision the clusters were stolen and distribute. That is, they claimed trade secrets were shipped to every customer with no more than a copyright notice. Therefore the nature of distributing and re-using Bash scripts is in question.