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Think UNIX Paperback – July 17, 2000

ISBN-13: 002-9236723767 ISBN-10: 078972376X Edition: 1st

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Think UNIX + UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook (4th Edition) + The Practice of System and Network Administration, Second Edition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Que Publishing; 1 edition (July 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078972376X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789723765
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,109,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The many variants of the Unix operating system require use of a mode of thought that's significantly different from the one that's required by simpler operating systems. Think Unix introduces readers to important fundamental and intermediate Unix commands and, in the process, inculcates them in the Unix way of thinking. It's a worthy goal in a world with more Linux users than ever, and author Jon Lasser accomplishes it. He's both a capable writer and a knowledgeable user of Unix shell commands. Lasser uses bash under Red Hat Linux in most examples--which usually apply equally well to other Unix variants--and makes asides about other shells and environments, as needed.

Like Unix itself, this book is highly literate, and rewards those who are willing to read through explanations of the command strings that pepper the paragraphs. The best strategy is to read this book from cover to cover, imagining that you're sitting through a seminar. You might know about some of the topics that are presented, but it's likely that something in every chapter will improve the depth of your Unix knowledge. A helpful pedagogical trick: Lasser has included practice problems here and there. A typical one: "Display the string 'Today's date is:,' followed by today's date." You should be able to solve these by reading the examples carefully, but you'll find solutions in the back of the book, in case you need them. This is a great book for Unix beginners. --David Wall

Topics covered: The Unix operating system and its peculiar way of allowing users to string commands together in powerful, flexible sequences. Commands and techniques are explored that have to do with files, processes, piping, shell commands, shell scripting, and the essentials of the X windowing system.

From the Author

I had to write this book: I tried not to, but there was no getting around it. Most introductions to Unix stink --- they're like phrasebooks and contain commands that you are obligated to memorize and repeat without any deep understanding.

Think Unix is like a language textbook: you learn some vocabulary (ie, individual commands), but (more importantly) you learn how to put it all together to do new things on your own.

Think Unix teaches you how to teach yourself: the first chapter teaches how to read and where to find the right documentation. Most computer people think everyone is born knowing how to interpret documentation, but it is a learned skill, though rarely taught.

If it's not obvious, I'm very excited by this approach. If it excites you too, then this is probably the Unix book for you. It assumes no prior Unix experience; if you're the sort of person who clicks through the menus in your word processor to find the feature that you want, if you sometimes click on something just to find out what it does, this is the book for you.

There's stuff in here for Unix experts too, but it's not a book about system administration. It's a book for new users who want to understand what's going on, why things work the way they do, and how to get the most out of the system: it's for readers who want to learn to Think Unix.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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I highly recommend this book for people getting started in Unix/Linux.
peter cohen
I recommend this book to (prospective) users of unix systems who take pleasure in reading, and need to learn a great deal very quickly.
Edward J. Hyer
Also, the humorous interjections here and there keep the book manageable and enjoyable.
Ray Ma

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a "One Horse" book, that horse being to teach UNIX to those who have used Windows or Macintosh OS's their whole life. Although I have been learning UNIX for over a year, and would like to think I know a little bit about it, it tends to be hard to remember how to tell someone else how to "do this" or "that". This book is great for that. This takes a user who knows how to use a mouse and keyboard, and knows how to navigate under a "windowed" operating system into the world of command prompts and even the X-Windows system. Don't expect this to make you a system administrator, it doesn't even touch many of the things a user doesn't need to know, but it does fulfill its purpose. If you would like to learn UNIX so you can install LINUX on your machine at home, this can be a great start. While a UNIX's are different in some way's, Jon tends to stick to common themes, and points out when a command just has a different name. If you would like to "remember" what your users don't know, this is also great for you. It's a great book to recommend for a user to learn on their own.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Edward J. Hyer on October 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
The reason I cannot call Mr. Lasser's book a "life-saver" is because I would not have perished from the Earth without it. Indeed, I probably would have figured almost all of the stuff in this book out, given six or seven years. But you gotta ask yourself, "at what cost?" In hair torn out (it's leaving fast enough, isn't it?), in hyperventilation (save that for the gym), in premature aging.
This book is not for Dummies. This book works best with people, as I may have indicated above, who Would Have Figured It Out by themselves. But while you may pretend to enjoy a rugged hike through the steeper parts of the learning curve, Mr. Lasser's book is like strapping on a jet-pack.
The book is conversational, sometimes funny (though it helps if you spend a lot of your time in front of computers), and extremely direct. If you are just curious about what this Unix thing might be good for, read the book slowly, learn a lot, and gain a solid foundation for becoming the captain of your computing destiny. If you have something you need to get done, read it quickly, learn-- well, a lot, and get where you're going in a hurry.
One caution: this book does expect that you will read it. It is not a ready reference, it is not designed for index-backward utilization. It is a short course in the skeletal framework of Unix, and not a hypertext instruction manual. If you are unaccustomed to reading as it was practiced before computer self-help books arrived to chaff the bookstores of our nation, you will not derive the maximum benefit from this book.
I recommend this book to (prospective) users of unix systems who take pleasure in reading, and need to learn a great deal very quickly.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
Cutting to the chase; an excellent book! I strongly recommend it if you are clear about what it is intended to accomplish. (The author even goes so far as to state his intent in the Introduction.)
This book gives an overall understanding of the underpinnings of the Unix (and therefore the Linux) operating systems. It provides a broad-brush overview of how and why 'nix works the way it does, from file structures to manual formats.
It does not provide detailed instruction in setting up or operating a system, in administering security programs or protocols, or even in programming.
But if you learn like I do (actually, like most people do...) your learning cycle is greatly shortened if you first get a broad-brush overview. It provides a foundation for all the details that come later.
If your intent is to learn *nix, my suggestion would be to buy or download a distribution (heck, some 'detail' books even come with one). Then go through the pain and suffering of installing it. (Hint: this is the reason to buy a book or distribution; the manual is very useful!) Then, buy this book to understand what your new system is doing - and why. Once you have, you'll be able to use the detail books, the 'bibles,' far more effectively. You'll even be able to use the documentation that comes with the system - or is readily available on the web - the way it is intended to be used.
It was been noted in a previous review that there are a number of technical inaccuracies and typos in the book. I suspect this is the price to be paid for the rapid release of technical books we see these days. I, for one, would rather put up with some errors that an on-line errata clears up than have to wait until a book is perfect, but completely out of date and useless.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Walker VINE VOICE on October 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one of the finest elementary Unix primers ever written. Rather than focusing on specific flavors or specific results, this book teaches Unix at the conceptual level, giving you the skills needed to get at least a little work done on any system (like how to read man pages, how to navigate X windows, and how to use the editor of the gods, vi). Additionally, the material on shell scripting and networking was exceptional.
While this book would serve well as a textbook (it is well-indexed and includes review questions), it is also a prime choice for new Linux users of the "I got it installed, now what?" variety. The only things holding back my fifth star are the minor but unfortunately frequent errors (but it is a first printing and, to the author's credit, errata is available online). All in all, a great book, certain to get better with time.
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