Monday, 10 August 2009

Book Review: Learning the UNIX Operating System

Although this book is a little older (the fifth edition was released in 2002), I found it to be very good serving as an introduction to UNIX, basic commands and concepts, and general notions about working with UNIX, and specifically Linux.

It is definitely aimed at first time Linux users, and it does not require the reader to have a lot of experience working with computers.

Published by O'Reilly, which is a renowned publisher of technical books, Learning the UNIX Operating System is easy to understand and the commands and concepts presented are easy to complete even by novice computer users. The book is focused on Linux, one of the most popular UNIX-like operating systems, and it is basically structured as follows:

- the Getting Started chapter, which is an introduction to the most basic concepts of UNIX, including simple tasks like logging in, remote logging, the UNIX shell (bash, ksh, csh and tcsh are mentioned here), entering commands and most basic commands like date, who or whoami
- the Using Window Systems chapter, and introduction to windowing, X Window System and working in a graphical environment; desktop environments like KDE and GNOME are not discussed here, instead this chapter introduces the reader to X applications like xcalc or xterm
- the next chapter explains the Linux directory structure and navigating throughout the filesystem; this chapter is an introduction to basic commands like ls, cd or pwd
- the next chapter, File Management, focuses on creating files and using text editors like Emacs, vim or pico; the use of wildcards is also explained here
- the Redirecting I/O chapter explains in detail how to redirect input and output using the >, <>> operators
- the Multitasking chapter introduced the reader to running commands in the background and working with processes
- finally, the Where to Go from Here chapter shows how to get help via the info and man commands

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