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Book Review: Practical Guide to Linux

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By Robert Nagle , Austin, TX, December, 2000
Summary: Not up to date, but still the best linux teaching book there is.

I've been working on linux for more than a year, and this was a book assigned for a class. Since then, I've bought four other linux books. But this one is usually the first book I will consult regardless.

The problems with the book are: that the book is very old, and that it doesn't discuss newer versions of Netscape and Red Hat and other tools. Linux has gotten a lot more user friendly, and this book won't provide a lot of help about using the most modern window manager. The book does not discuss apache and possibly not even samba (i don't remember). It doesn't really adequately describe dual booting with windows (which is an important thing to discuss). On the other hand, it gives a more than adequate explanation of vi, emacs and cvs.

Also this book is unparalleled is discussing how to use the command line interface and explaining the underworkings of the linux/unix OS. The best thing about the book is that it gives an exceptional index to the bash commands and utility commands and it gives two or three pages of explanations and EXAMPLES for each one. At first glance, it may resemble a man page, but it gives much more than that. It gives actual situations, and prompts, user input and results. These examples easily explain the functions and the powers and the niceties of the command switches. Particularly helpful were the discussion of sed, awk, regular expressions and other low level commands. It doesn't discuss networking as much as it should, but its unwavering focus on the command line more than makes up for this deficiency.

Other books I would recommend include LINUX, Second Edition: Installation, Configuration, and Use and Oreilley's Running Linux or Network Administrator's Guide. But I still go back to this book more often than all three of these books combined. When this book comes out in a later edition (and I feel sure it will), it will undoubtedly be the best guide for newbies and pro's alike.


cover, Practical Guide to Linux
Practial Guide to Linux

by Mark G. Sobell
Addison Wesley,
1st edition (June 25, 1997)
List Price: $44.95


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