Tag Archives: Scripting

Examples of recursion, in Perl, Ruby, and Bash

Image result for recursion

This article is in response to the following question posted in the Perl community group on  LinkedIn:

I’m new to PERL and trying to understand recursive subroutines. Can someone please explain with an example (other than the factorial ;) ) step by step, how it works? Thanks in Advance.

Below, are some very simplified code examples in Perl, Ruby, and Bash.

A listing of the files used in these examples:

blopez@blopez-K56CM ~/hello_scripts 
$ tree .
 ├── hello.pl
 ├── hello.rb
 └── hello.sh
0 directories, 3 files
blopez@blopez-K56CM ~/hello_scripts $

Recursion example using Perl:

– How the Perl script is executed, and it’s output:

blopez@blopez-K56CM ~/hello_scripts $ perl hello.pl "How's it going!"
How's it going!
How's it going!
How's it going!
blopez@blopez-K56CM ~/hello_scripts $ 

– The Perl recursion code:

#!/usr/bin/env perl
use Modern::Perl;
my $status_update = $ARGV[0]; # get script argument

sub hello_world
    my $status_update = shift; # get function argument
    say "$status_update";
    sleep 1; # sleep, or eventually crash your system
    &hello_world( $status_update ); # execute myself with argument

&hello_world( $status_update ); # execute function with argument

Recursion example using Ruby:

– How the Ruby script is executed:

blopez@blopez-K56CM ~/hello_scripts 
$ ruby hello.rb "Doing great!"
Doing great!
Doing great!
Doing great!
^Chello.rb:7:in `sleep': Interrupt
    from hello.rb:7:in `hello_world'
    from hello.rb:8:in `hello_world'
    from hello.rb:8:in `hello_world'
    from hello.rb:11:in `'
blopez@blopez-K56CM ~/hello_scripts $

Note: In Ruby’s case, stopping the script with CTRL-C returns a bit more debugging information.

– The Ruby recursion code:

#!/usr/bin/env ruby
status = ARGV[0] # get script argument

def hello_world( status ) # define function, and get script argument
    puts status
    sleep 1 # sleep, or potentially crash your system
    return hello_world status # execute myself with argument

hello_world status # execute function with argument

Recursion example using Bash:

– How the Bash script is executed:

blopez@blopez-K56CM ~/hello_scripts $ bash hello.sh "..nice talking to you."
..nice talking to you.
..nice talking to you.
..nice talking to you.
blopez@blopez-K56CM ~/hello_scripts $ 

– The Bash recursion code:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

mystatus=$1 # get script argument

hello_world() {
    mystatus=$1 # get function argument
    echo "${mystatus}"
    sleep 1 # breath between executions, or crash your system
    hello_world "${mystatus}" # execute myself with argument

hello_world "${mystatus}" # execute function with argument

Back to Basics – Very Simple Log Monitoring with Perl


There are many many tools out there which allow you to monitor and view your system or networking logs in several different ways.  Sometimes though, you may find yourself looking for a specific feature that none of these tools currently provide.  Whenever your goals are very specific, and you don’t want to use a big feature-full program to accomplish a simple task, you may want to consider writing your own tool.

Below is a simple Perl program I wrote which does just that. All the requirements of the program are within the script itself (using the __DATA__ handle at the bottom of the file). The only thing you may need to install on your system to get this to work is the File::Tail CPAN package.

#!/usr/bin/perl -w

use strict;
use File::Tail;

my @patterns = ;
my $file = File::Tail->new ("/var/log/syslog");
while ( defined(my $line=$file->read) )
    my $match = &filter($line);
    if ( $match eq "no" )
        print $line;

sub filter ()
    my $line = $_[0];
    my $match = "no";
    foreach my $test (@patterns)
        if ( $line =~ m/$test/ )
            $match = "yes";
    return $match;

ACCEPT IN=br0 OUT=vlan1 src=*PROTO=TCP.*DPT=80
ACCEPT IN=br0 OUT=vlan1 src=*PROTO=TCP.*DPT=80
ACCEPT IN=br0 OUT=vlan1 src=*PROTO=TCP.*DPT=443
ACCEPT IN=br0 OUT=vlan1 src=*PROTO=TCP.*DPT=443
ACCEPT IN=br0 OUT=vlan1 src=*PROTO=UDP.*DPT=53
JBLLNXWKS dhclient


This program will monitor the end of the file (like the Unix ‘tail’ command) and check for new log entries. When it detects new lines in the log, it will filter those lines with the patterns defined at the end of the script (under __DATA__) and display anything it detects in the logs except those filter lines.

You’ll probably notice that the filter lines are regular expressions, which makes this script more powerful than doing filtering by simple full-string comparison.

Aside from simply printing the output to STDOUT, you could use regular expressions to pop pieces of each line into an array or hash, in order to do calculations, such as how many entries had a source IP of X, or destination port of Y, etc.

Its definitely a good thing to keep in mind that whatever software you could possibly need is already out there on the internet, and possibly open source. However, its also good to keep in mind that YOU can create a tool yourself to accomplish your specific task; all it takes is a little self-confidence, effort, and patience.