REVIEW - Learning the Unix Operating System - A Concise Guide for the New User


Learning the Unix Operating System - A Concise Guide for the New User


Jerry Peek, Grace Todino, John Strang




O'Reilly (2002)




Joe McCool


April 2002



Ah, what a lovely little book. My list of classics include: K&R, Pike and Kernighan's The Practice of Programmin ', their The Unix Programming Environment , The Perl Cook Book and The Awk Programming Language . To that list I can now add the current volume.

It is however, a more gentle read, aimed at beginners. These authors are concerned with the classical building blocks that make Unix such a joy to use: I/O redirection, pipes, sorting, queues, processes. These are the nuts and bolts that make Unix so powerful and by which even the newbie user can move mountains with a simple command line flourish.

Lynx, the text based browser, is introduced as a taste for what can be achieved without glitz and bloat - such a part of the more 'popular' tools. GUIs are not neglected with a chapter on X, its use and configuration.

What more can I say: this is a good buy, especially for anyone approaching Unix/Linux for the first time. Even older hands might find it useful to have a copy, if only to give away. It won't provide all that is needed but it is good starting point. I am convinced that computers are getting uglier by the day. This ugliness stems from a quest for glitz at the expense of simplicity and elegance. Like a breath of fresh air, 'Learning the Unix Operating System', is a reminder that it doesn't need to be that way. Perhaps there is hope.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.