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A Practical Guide to Linux Paperback – July 5, 1997

ISBN-13: 078-5342895490 ISBN-10: 0201895498 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1072 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (July 5, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201895498
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201895490
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #663,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Estimates have it that there are over three million Linux users worldwide because besides Linux being very good, it is free. Linus Torvalds developed Linux and placed it on the Internet protected by "copyleft," which means anyone can use the original source code, but they must also place any developed code in the public domain for others to use. This book is not for computing beginners but is instead for advanced users who are new to installing and running Linux. The book includes an introduction to Linux installation and discussions of file structure, editing, shell programming, and utility programs such as regular expression searching, help, emulators, and POSIX standards.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Back Cover

"...I am indebted to Mark for helping me to learn UNIX and now for helping to make Linux accessible to more people...I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning and using Linux."

Linus Torvalds
Father of Linux

"Finally, a Linux 'tome' I will recommend to friends. Mark knows Linux well, and presents it clearly. In a book primarily and successfully aimed at new users, he has succeeded in teaching me more about my favorite environment -- and I'm paid to be an expert."

Michael K. Johnson
Software Developer, Red Hat Software
(Former Editor, Linux Journal)

This new book by best-selling UNIX author Mark Sobell combines the strengths of a tutorial and those of a reference to give you the knowledge and skills to master Linux. Uniquely designed for both beginners and experienced users, A Practical Guide to Linux requires no prior programming experience. It begins with an extensive tutorial to bring those with less experience up to speed, and then quickly progresses to detailed chapters on GUIs, networking, the vi and emacs editors, three popular shells, programming tools, and system administration. Part two is a comprehensive reference containing descriptions and examples of 87 utilities. The book includes several complete example sessions on downloading and installing Linux-based utilities and other software from the Internet.

A Practical Guide to Linux contains:

  • clear, easy-to-read descriptions of 87 utilities with practical examples;
  • detailed coverage of Linux programming tools and concepts, including using the C compiler, make, and source code control systems (rcs and cvs);
  • in-depth discussion of system administration procedures such as backing up the system, monitoring growing files, rebuilding Linux, installing new software and updates, and preventing and fixing problems;
  • thorough shell coverage with chapters on the Bourne Again Shell (bash), the TC Shell (tcsh), and the Z Shell (zsh);
  • examples showing interactive use of the shells as well as shell programming;
  • information on using and customizing the X Window System, including sections on the Mosaic and fvwm window managers; and
  • a comprehensive glossary as well as appendixes covering regular expressions, POSIX standards, and a special Linux help section written as a FAQ.

The text is compatible with all Linux distributions, and a companion Web site is maintained by the author to provide assistance in locating on-line Linux documentation, software, news groups, and more (


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Customer Reviews

This book has everything for someone who is new to Linux.
Adrienne D. Miles
This book toes a very difficult line between being a textbook with tutorials and a reference guide, and it succeeds admirably.
It has many examples, clear descriptions, and very useful information.
David L. Van Popering

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By "bernardd" on January 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
With the assistance of a friend who is more familiar with computer hardware than I am, I installed Linux on my PC several months ago. After that I downloaded a whole bunch of How-Tos and started exploring the Linux System. While the How-To's were extremely useful, they were a little obscure at times. Also they didn't always answer my questions. A month later I purchased 2 Books on Linux - Running Linux by Welsh & Kaufman and A Practical Guide to Linux by Mark Sobell. Welsh & Kaufman's book deals more with Systems Programming and Hardware Issues. In fact, the two books complement each other quite well. Running Linux is also somewhat "chattier" than Sobell's book which basically just "tells it like it is". Sobell's book, although it covers Systems Administration, mainly deals with issues like shell programming, editors, utility programs and programming tools. There are chapters on the Linux utilities, the filesystem, the Shell, X-Windows, the vi and Emacs Editors. Most importantly for me, there are 2 chapters on the Bourne Shell and Bourne shell scripts. Although there is an O'Reilly book on Bash which I have not seen and which presumably deals with Bash programming even more comprehensively, Sobell's book was the most useful and useable source of information on Shell programming that I have found so far. The Command summary at the back is also well presented and useful. Sobell does make extensive use of internal references, presumably because he did not want to restate the same material. While this does lead to a bit of page turning to get an answer sometimes, it leaves more room for other material, so I can readily accept it.Read more ›
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you have installed Linux, and need a coherent, step by step method to show you how to use it, this is a great book. This book is not designed to walk you through the Linux installation process. For that, any number of other books are available. It is not a disassociated compilation of how-tos. It is part tutorial and part reference guide. I am a new Linux user, and am currently taking a class in Unix. I wish the instructor had chosen this book. I am using it rather than the assigned textbook and I find that I am not only keeping up with the class, but my understanding of the material is considerably enhanced. At the end of each chapter, there are questions relating to the material presented in that chapter. If you can answer the questions, you can be sure that you understand the material. The explanations of the utilities are excellent; they provide enough theoretical information to give you an understanding of how they are integrated with the OS, and clear examples, which allow you to use them instantly. The book is designed for the intermediate to advanced user who may have little or no experience with Linux and wants a thorough introduction. The format is well thought out and, if you choose to move through the book chapter by chapter, you will find it well designed and challenging. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Tom ( on October 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
I would not have written this review if I didn't see the review by j.guy@soandso (The cute penguin) but after reading this book and thinking it was great I went back to the book and looked up his complaints. By golly he was right! But unfortunately he missed one important point that even the 5 star reviewers did. This book is not the first Linux book you should read! Sobell's book went as smooth as silk for me, but that was after reading both the Red Hat 6.0 manuals front to back and then Linux for Dummies (ok hold on, it only took me 2.5 hours to read so stop laughing). So this book is truely a 5 star book, but probably won't be alot of help to you until you've read about and experimented with some really basic features of the OS. This book should be on your bookshelf and after I read a couple other ones (this level and up) I may come back and review it again just to make sure I'm 100% right.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert Nagle on December 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
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.
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