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Linux in a Nutshell (In a Nutshell (O'Reilly)) 2nd Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1565925854
ISBN-10: 1565925858
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Linux in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference is a 612-page command and program reference guide for this red-hot Unix derivative. While Linux couldn't be easier to get--it's a free download from the Web--clear and concise documentation is key to successful application.

Linux in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference is only a minimal introduction to this remarkable operating system; the book's real strength lies in the simple alphabetical table of Linux commands that runs for more than 150 pages. Each command is documented with its various switches including occasional examples and brief overviews of especially interesting commands. Author Ellen Siever dedicates a section of the book to covering three common shell programs for Linux: bash, csh, and tcsh. In the short introduction to shells, Siever lists the commands that are common to all three as well as those that differ. This is followed by individual references for each.

Coverage of the Emacs, ex, sed, and vi programs and command sets comprise the material on Linux text editors. The gawk scripting language is also represented, as well as sections detailing programming commands and the RCS and CVS file-versioning programs. The book also covers Perl, system administration commands, and dual booting.

While Linux can be lots of fun, no one should dive in ill equipped. Using Linux in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference will help you navigate this OS safely. --Stephen Plain

About the Author

Ellen Siever is a writer and editor specializing in Linux and other open source topics. In addition to Linux in a Nutshell, she coauthored Perl in a Nutshell. She is a long-time Linux and Unix user, and was a programmer for many years until she decided that writing about computers was more fun.

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Product Details

  • Series: In a Nutshell (O'Reilly)
  • Paperback: 628 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 2 edition (February 11, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565925858
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565925854
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,472,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
First off, this book is NOT for absolute beginners. It is not a book meant for someone who has zero experience with Linux. But, as a desktop reference for those who know how to use Linux, it is an excellent and handy book. It helps by saving time scanning through man pages for commands and GNU tools. The information on Emacs, vi and shell syntax for bash, csh and tcsh shells is extremely helpful.
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Format: Paperback
Generally O'Reilly nutshell series are easy to be blamed as a printout of existing manuals. But still some are better in incorporating authors' experience. By reading UNIX in a Nutshell, you know examples in there are very carefully selected based on authors' experience. Other Nutshell books such as Java in a Nutshell, VB/VBA in a Nutshell contain a lot of author's own wisdom and tips accumulated over the years. However, Linux in a Nutshell is too close to a nicely-bound printout of manual pages. The author could've shown us useful examples of some important commands and given more detailed descriptions of Linux-specific issues. If that makes the book too big, don't include too much non-Linux stuff. I bought it because a Half Price Bookstore was selling it for 50% off and it saves me trouble printing out manuals. But the chapters on Perl, sed/awk etc. are a waste of paper for anyone who already has UNIX in a Nutshell (which I believe most of us do) and Perl books. In a nutshell, even a layman with a few months' learning can write (or compile) this book. Hey, you can make money fast! -- Seriously, this book is useful though. But they should've sold it for even less because there's not much work involved in producing it.
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Format: Paperback
This could have been an excellent reference manual had the author bothered to give command syntax along with a more complete list of options. The other thing that keeps me from giving this or any other computer book I own a five star rating is a poor, incomplete index. Why is it that people who write books on computers don't use their computers to amass comprehensive indexes? Baffles me. Anyway, I keep this book close by, but it has turned out to be less than I hoped for and less than it is rated as being. If it had a good index, I would give it four stars. If it provided more in the way of command syntax, I would probably give it five stars. This is a book for intermediate to advanced users willing to jot notes in the margins on command options not included and cross references not indexed.
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Format: Paperback
I have found this book to be quite useful since it is a condensed version of the man files. It also cuts to the chase and gives you the most commonly used command options. Out of my shelf full of *NIX books, this is the one I grab for when I need to look up something like a command for Emacs or a shell option.
I also like being able to carry it around and reading up on all the commands due to it's size, a binder with all the man pages printed off would prove to be unwieldy.
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Format: Paperback
It contains the Linux user Commands,the Bash shell,the csh shell,the tcsh shell,Emacs,vi,ex,sed editors,the gawk Language,RCS 'n' CVS,Perl,sysadmin commands and boot methods.A very good reference,but i do not reccomend it for a completely begginer to Linux.
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Format: Paperback
This book is long on the classical Unix-of-yore (awk, sed, five different shells) but short on really useful 'hard' Linux stuff. Many configuration commands, networking, etc are missing. There's a big overlap with my five-year-old Unix V reference, also published by O'Reilly.
Similarly, I think the large Perl section is misplaced in a Linux reference book. If you need this level of detail, you get one of the camel books.
Also, the index leaves something to be desired -- and that's a big minus for a pure reference book like this. Indeed, as some other reviewers have noted, once you know which command to use, man pages will in many cases be just as convenient.
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Format: Paperback
Other reviews make strong cases for rating this book at less than five stars. But after a certain point in using computers, one wants the hard side of a tradeoff between leanness and information. I just looked at my copy and wondered if it could tell me what a 'symbolic link' is. I ended up running "man ln" and "info ln" to understand the difference between a hard and soft link. Not very user-friendly, especially since the concept is as simple as Windows shortcuts.
Any fairly new user who tried running "info ln" would be in a little world of pain, as well. It executes the text-mode emacs editor, and I imagine people would try typing 'C' and 'h' to get help, instead of Ctrl-h.
But all that aside, I think this book deserves the 5 stars because it's perfect for its very useful role. Its chapter on CVS is better than entire books on the subject, since you just have to look at a page of reference, instead of plodding through some nightmare book that makes CVS seem more profound than it is. The chapters on shell programming get you into the thick of the subject pretty quickly. (My one beef with the book is where it says csh programming is 'bad for your health' without explaining why. C shell lacks some capabilities for file handling. But that's probably only very important for sysadmins, and it's even very unmaintainable for them to use deep shell programming anyway.)
This sounds like a review against the book, which is good. I just wish to define what this book is not, since that is what is greatly important for a reference.
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