REVIEW - Linux in a Nutshell


Linux in a Nutshell


Ellen Siever, Stephen Figgins, Aaron Weber



O'Reilly (2003)




Giles Moran


December 2003



a good reference for those who regularly use linux

This is the 4th edition of the popular desktop linux reference. The book covers most of the commands users will want to use for most tasks on a linux system. It contains several references in one, covering CVS, RCS, sed, gawk, vi, emacs, bash, tcsh, regular expressions, bootloaders, package management, desk top environments and some system administration commands. It's written in a fairly terse style, but gets the information over in a clear and concise manner. Examples are given, although more would have been useful. The index runs to 31 pages which gives some indication of the depth of reference material available.

After a quick introduction, the book dives into a system administration overview. This is a welcome chapter as I can now decipher most of the TLA that the local sysadmins throw at me with a moment's notice. The overview of networks and TCP/IP is clear and informative. Chapter three present the user, programmer and systems administration commands. This section is very large (464 pages) and seems very complete in its coverage. Chapter four covers boot methods covering both LILO and GRUB boot loaders. Package managers for RedHat and Debian linux distributions are described in chapter five. Chapters on shell, bash and tcsh, sed, gawk, emacs and vi follow. RCS is covered and then CVS. The chapter on CVS is very good and gives a concise overview of what CVS is and the commands. The book then shifts away from the terse command style to cover window managers. GNOME, KDE and fvwm2 are described in some detail.

This isn't a book to read (believe me I tried), but it is a good reference for those who regularly use linux and haven't already got a decent reference. I use CVS, tcsh, vi and emacs on a regular basis so this book is very useful. What this book won't do is to teach you how to get started with linux, other books in this series will do a much better job of that. Very handy and recommended.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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