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[techbooks] REVIEW: "Understanding UNIX", Stan Kelly-Bootle

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKUNDRUN.RVW 990207 Understanding UNIX , Stan Kelly-Bootle, 1994, 0-7821-1499-7, U$29.99/C$41.95 %A Stan Kelly-Bootle skb@crl.com http://www.crl.com/~skb
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 12, 1999
      BKUNDRUN.RVW 990207

      "Understanding UNIX", Stan Kelly-Bootle, 1994, 0-7821-1499-7,
      %A Stan Kelly-Bootle skb@... http://www.crl.com/~skb
      %C 1151 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda, CA 94501
      %D 1994
      %G 0-7821-1499-7
      %I Sybex Computer Books
      %O U$29.99/C$41.95 800-227-2346 Fax: 510-523-2373 info@...
      %P 587 p.
      %T "Understanding UNIX, Second Edition"

      When this book was written, Linus Thorvalds was only just pulling
      together his merry band of open sorcerers, the World Wide Web, if you
      had heard about it at all, was probably accessed through something
      called Lynx, and if you had a really serious connection to the
      Internet you probably had an account on a UNIX box.

      Chapter one starts at the very beginning: logging in, and logging out.
      The instructions and explanations are very clear, making sure that the
      reader understands what is going on, and what could go wrong. Humour
      is used to reinforce the lessons, as one would expect from Mr
      Contradictionary (cf. BKCMCNTD.RVW) himself. A few commands are
      described in chapter two, but the greater emphasis is placed on how
      commands function, and how the shell processes them. The UNIX
      filesystem directory and tree structure is presented in chapter three.
      Having enough information to start exploring the filesystem, users
      will probably start wanting to create files. Chapter four not only
      starts to list those commands, but also useful side issues like
      wildcards and the man command. Electronic mail is explained using the
      mail command in chapter five. Chapters six and seven deal with
      customization, first of shell and some interface functions, and then
      of permissions within the users scope.

      Chapter eight looks at the most basic UNIX editor, ed, also
      introducing regular expressions. Process manipulation is not all that
      complicated a topic as explained in chapter nine. Printing and
      printer management are described in chapter ten. The vi editor family
      is dealt with in chapter eleven and twelve, first simply and then in
      more advanced terms. Advanced shell operations and scripts are given
      in chapter thirteen. (An appendix at the end of the book lists
      differences between the shells.)

      Chapter fourteen starts looking into the UNIX toolbox with the sort,
      uniq, head, tail, split, cut, paste, find, tr, translate, and dd
      commands. Fifteen ups the ante with the highly useful but slightly
      more difficult to use grep family, sed, and awk. Further extensions
      of shell scripts are available with while, test, read, if and case in
      chapter sixteen. Networks, from uucp to the Internet, are quickly
      explained in chapter seventeen. System administration topics get once
      over lightly in chapter eighteen. Chapter nineteen discusses the X
      windowing system. A final postscript looks at the history and
      possible future of UNIX.

      Nowadays, of course, the world has changed radically. Linux is well
      established as not only a hobbyist system, but is making inroads for
      home use, and even business systems. If you want to run a Web server,
      Apache is one of the most functional around. And if you want to do
      anything on the net more serious than surfing and cookie-cutter home
      pages, you are likely to encounter a UNIX system.

      Hmmmm. Maybe there is still room for a book on learning UNIX after

      This text will certainly get you there. I am not sure that I could
      recommend it over books like McMullen's "Complete Idiot's Guide to
      UNIX" (cf. BKCIGUNX.RVW) (distasteful as the title is) or Welsh and
      Kaufman's "Running Linux" (cf. BKRUNLIN.RVW), although it certainly
      isn't much behind. In truth, the choice is probably going to lie in
      personal preference. Kelly-Bootle's style is certainly readable and
      understandable, but after the first few chapters he does rather lapse
      into a UNIX culture style of documentation. On the one hand, that may
      be a little difficult for those coming to UNIX for the first time to
      completely relate to. On the other, it does mean that, if you start
      from the beginning and work your way through, by the time you finish
      you will not only know a great deal about UNIX, but also UNIX culture.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKUNDRUN.RVW 990207

      rslade@... rslade@... robertslade@... p1@...
      Review index: http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade/review.htm
      Robert Slade's Guide to Computer Viruses, 0-387-94663-2 (800-SPRINGER)

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