Most helpful positive review
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Strong, gently-paced intro
on October 24, 2006
The bash shell is now the most common and featureful command shell in the Unix world. It's full capability certainly isn't obvious to a beginner facing a command prompt, but is well worth exploring. This book is a great place for the novice to start. The first chapter addresses the most fundamental question: just what is a command shell?
The ideal reader already knows at least the names of the emacs and vi editors. That much helps understand the many features and two distinct feature sets available for command line editing. I consider fancy command line editing over-rated for fluent typists, but it's there in the second chapter for all who want it and anyone can benefit from at least a little knowledge of it. After that successive chapters pull the reader deeper into the bash feature set: aliases and shell variables, scripting and shell programming, and debugging when the shell programs or functions go awry.
Since this book is aimed at the novice, Newham and Rosenblatt skip lightly over a few of the more advanced subjects. For example, exceptions and trap handling get only cursory treatment, since they get into deep weirdness very fast. The authors are honest about this shallow treatment, though, and give enough information for a novice to recognize the basics and look them up in more advanced references.
This is nicely organized for the self-taught student. As a result, it's not laid out as a programmer's reference manual - anyone who wants that kind of reference just isn't looking at the right book. For its intended reader, though, it's a great book. It gets readers off to a fast start, and lets them decide just how much they want to bite off at a time. I recommned it very highly.