Top positive review
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Practical, authoritative, readable and educative
on September 10, 2010
Excellent book that will take your linux skills to the next level. Command line is where Linux shines and if you need to know what's under the hood, read this book, either cover to cover or just by chapters that interest you.
You'll hear many Linux enthusiasts gladly pointing to free online resources for learning Linux and although there are many, those resources are of varying quality and always fail to go into a deeper discussion accompanied by examples, end up pawing man pages or worse are just echo of somebody else's attempt at writing a Linux walkthrough.
This book is primarily practical. Although the opening chapter may seem unnecessary, dealing with history of GNU and Linux, chapters that follow dive deeper and deeper to show you just what is it that makes Linux shell so great.
The language in which this book is written makes it an authoritative source. If you ever caught yourself reading the man pages of any Linux utility, you noticed how incredibly terse and hard to understand the language of the man pages can be. The language of this book is just a notch down from the man pages language, it isn't hard on you but it will require your attention all the time as there's very little to none "filler material" and unnecessary repetition.
This is not to say that this material is dry and unreadable. The material is not only compiled information on utilities and their roles but author also shows his points in practice and makes you learn not only on how- to's but by contrast as well. I caught myself reading 30 pages at once when I noticed this book on the shelves of the bookstore, just by browsing through the pages.
Educative- if you set out to learn as many available commands with their most commonly used handles, the appendices of this book will greatly help you achieve just that since those appendices contain an impressive compilation of commands, their handles and (what most impressed me) what those handles do through examples. No other book or online guide that I've seen so far does that for its reader. Commands discussed aren't only the most popular ones, or the recommended ones for different levels, inside are explanations for commands that are used by more advanced users but explained on a very plain level and through non- trivial examples. That is way past the "hello world" level of online guides.
Although you'll probably be mostly interested in the Bash shell part, author discusses other available shells with the more advanced audience in mind (like tcsh and zsh) keeping the same level and depth of discussion, and where necessary, points out how things are done or which equivalent utilities are used in those shells as well as in Bash.
What isn't covered here is Linux networking. Everything that is explained pertains to working at an individual Linux workstation. It is assumed that you have an access to a completely configured and successful Linux installation that has all hardware and installation issues resolved. In this day and age, you'd probably want to do a virtual installation of Linux in a virtual machine thereby eliminating possible conflict due to non- compliant hardware.
This book helped me a lot while preparing for the Linux Professional Institute Certification level 1, especially for the first of the two exams (LPIC 101) that required exact knowledge of commands and their usage on individual workstations. I successfully passed that exam and those appendices with commands as well as explanations provided throughout the book proved invaluable at exam time.