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