I upgraded to Ubuntu 12.10. It’s nice, but it means I can no longer run QGIS 1.9 easily, so I’m limping along with 1.8, and without functional python extensions at that.
So, when I wanted to merge a directory of 60 some odd shapefiles, I turned to OGR. GIS Programming at http://gis-programming.com/?p=194 shows how to do it on Windows. Here’s the linux/BASH way:
for f in *.shp; do ogr2ogr -update -append merge.shp $f -f "ESRI Shapefile"; done;