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A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming (2nd Edition) 2nd Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0131367364
ISBN-10: 0131367366
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Editorial Reviews


Praise for the First Edition of A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming  


“First Sobell taught people how to use Linux…now he teaches you the power of Linux. A must-have book for anyone who wants to take Linux to the next level.”

—Jon “maddog” Hall, Executive Director, Linux International


“This book is a very useful tool for anyone who wants to ‘look under the hood’ so to speak, and really start putting the power of Linux to work. What I find particularly frustrating about man pages is that they never include examples. Sobell, on the other hand, outlines very clearly what the command does and then gives several common, easy-tounderstand examples that make it a breeze to start shell programming on one’s own. As with Sobell’s other works, this is simple, straight-forward, and easy to read. It’s a great book and will stay on the shelf at easy arm’s reach for a long time.”

—Ray Bartlett, Travel Writer


“Overall I found this book to be quite excellent, and it has earned a spot on the very front of my bookshelf. It covers the real ‘guts’ of Linux—the command line and its utilities—and does so very well. Its strongest points are the outstanding use of examples, and the Command Reference section. Highly recommended for Linux users of all skill levels. Well done to Mark Sobell and Prentice Hall for this outstanding book!”

—Dan Clough, Electronics Engineer and Slackware Linux user


“Totally unlike most Linux books, this book avoids discussing everything via GUI and jumps right into making the power of the command line your friend.”

—Bjorn Tipling, Software Engineer, ask.com


“This book is the best distro-agnostic, foundational Linux reference I’ve ever seen, out of dozens of Linux-related books I’ve read. Finding this book was a real stroke of luck. If you want to really understand how to get things done at the command line, where the power and flexibility of free UNIX-like OSes really live, this book is among the best tools you’ll find toward that end.”

—Chad Perrin, Writer, TechRepublic


Praise for Other Books by Mark G. Sobell


“I keep searching for books that collect everything you want to know about a subject in one place, and keep getting disappointed. Usually the books leave out some important topic, while others go too deep in some areas and must skim lightly over the others. A Practical Guide to Red Hat® Linux® is one of those rare books that actually pulls it off. Mark G. Sobell has created a single reference for Red Hat Linux that can’t be beat! This marvelous text (with a 4-CD set of Linux Fedora Core 2 included) is well worth the price. This is as close to an ‘everything you ever needed to know’ book that I’ve seen. It’s just that good and rates 5 out of 5.”

—Ray Lodato, Slashdot contributor


“Mark Sobell has written a book as approachable as it is authoritative.”

—Jeffrey Bianchine, Advocate, Author, Journalist


“Excellent reference book, well suited for the sysadmin of a Linux cluster, or the owner of a PC contemplating installing a recent stable Linux. Don’t be put off by the daunting heft of the book. Sobell has strived to be as inclusive as possible, in trying to anticipate your system administration needs.”

—Wes Boudville, Inventor


A Practical Guide to Red Hat® Linux® is a brilliant book. Thank you Mark Sobell.”

—C. Pozrikidis, University of California at San Diego


“This book presents the best overview of the Linux operating system that I have found. . . . [It] should be very helpful and understandable no matter what the reader’s background: traditional UNIX user, new Linux devotee, or even Windows user. Each topic is presented in a clear, complete fashion, and very few assumptions are made about what the reader knows. . . . The book is extremely useful as a reference, as it contains a 70-page glossary of terms and is very well indexed. It is organized in such a way that the reader can focus on simple tasks without having to wade through more advanced topics until they are ready.”

—Cam Marshall, Marshall Information Service LLC, Member of Front Range UNIX Users Group [FRUUG], Boulder, Colorado


“Conclusively, this is THE book to get if you are a new Linux user and you just got into the RH/Fedora world. There’s no other book that discusses so many different topics and in such depth.”

—Eugenia Loli-Queru, Editor in Chief, OSNews.com

About the Author

Mark G. Sobell is President of Sobell Associates Inc., a consulting firm that special­izes in UNIX/Linux training, support, and custom software development. He has more than twenty-five years of experience working with UNIX and Linux systems and is the author of many best-selling books, including A Practical Guide to Fedora™ and Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®, Fourth Edition; A Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux®, Second Edition; and A Practical Guide to UNIX®for Mac OS® X Users (coauthored with Peter Seebach), all from Prentice Hall; and A Practical Guide to the UNIX System from Addison-Wesley.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1080 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 2 edition (November 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131367366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131367364
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #286,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mark Sobell's "A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming, Second Edition" follows a number of other "Practical Guides" that Sobell has authored on different flavors of Unix and Linux. Its title is quite descriptive, as it does not contain any material on GUIs, networking, printing, and so on.

The Good: this is basically two books for the price of one. The 300-page reference section toward the end of the book is very good: it contains tables of command arguments in a visually pleasing layout, specific notes, and on top of that it also includes exactly what the man pages sorely lack: detailed examples! Thus, the command reference in Part V alone is worth buying the book for. Sobell covers 100 utilities, ranging from one-page pointers (e.g. cal, renice, strings, wc) to mini-tutorials (e.g. find, grep, make, pax, sort). The early part of the book is 600 pages long and is intended to be both a tutorial and a reference. Sobell is explicitly trying to be novice-friendly: he has included chapter summaries, exercises (with answers to even-numbered exercises provided on his website), a glossary in an appendix, as well as numerous tables summarizing lessons learned (or about to be introduced). Such tables are scattered throughout the text and in the case of a few chapters (notably the ones on vim and emacs) they are also repeated in the form of very useful chapter summaries. Sobell is very good both at cross-referencing material and at collecting all the relevant information in one place. The first 5 chapters deal with the basics of interactive shell usage and are pedagogically sound, probably more so than the chapters that follow. After that, the author covers two different text editors and two different shells.
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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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