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Think UNIX [Paperback]

Jon Lasser
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: £21.99
Price: £17.90 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

7 July 2000

Unix has a reputation for being cryptic and difficult to learn, but it doesn't need to be that way. Think Unix takes an analogous approach to that of a grammar book. Rather than teaching individual words or phrases like most books, Think Unix teaches the set of logical structures to be learned. Myriad examples help you learn individual commands, and practice problems at the end of difficult sections help you learn the practical side of Unix. Strong attention is paid to learning how to read "man pages," the standard documentation on all Unix systems, including Linux. While most books simply tell you that man pages exist and spend some time teaching how to use the man command, none spend any significant amount of space teaching how to use the content of the man pages. Even if you are lost at the Unix command prompt, you can learn subsystems that are specific to the Unix flavor.


Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: QUE; 1 edition (7 July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078972376X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789723765
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 19 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,040,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

The many variants of the Unix operating system require using a mode of thought that is significantly different from the one required by simpler operating systems. Think Unix introduces readers to important fundamental and intermediate Unix commands and, in the process of doing so, inculcates them in the Unix way of thinking. It is a worthy goal in a world with more Linux users than ever, and author Jon Lasser accomplishes it. He is both a capable writer and a knowledgeable user of Unix shell commands. Lasser uses bash under Red Hat Linux in most examples, which usually apply equally well to other Unix variants, and he makes asides about other shells and environments as needed.

Like Unix itself, this book is highly literate, and it rewards those willing to read through explanations of the command strings that pepper the paragraphs. The best strategy is to read this book from cover to cover, imagining that you are sitting through a seminar. You may know about some of the topics presented, but it is likely that something in every chapter will improve the depth of your Unix knowledge. A helpful pedagogical trick: Lasser has included practice problems here and there. A typical one is, "Display the string 'Today's date is:,' followed by today's date". You should be able to solve these by carefully reading the examples, but you will find solutions in the back in case you need them.

This is a great book for Unix beginners. --David Wall

From the Publisher

A Unique Approach - Understand the 'why' of UNIX.
Unix has a reputation for being cryptic and difficult to learn, but it doesn't need to be that way.

Think Unix takes an analogous approach to that of a grammar book. Rather than teaching individual words or phrases like most books, Think Unix teaches the set of logical structures to be learned.

Myriad examples help you learn individual commands, and practice problems at the end of difficult sections help you learn the practical side of Unix.

Strong attention is paid to learning how to read "man pages," the standard documentation on all Unix systems, including Linux. While most books simply tell you that man pages exist and spend some time teaching how to use the man command, none spend any significant amount of space teaching how to use the content of the man pages.

Even if you are lost at the Unix command prompt, you can learn subsystems that are specific to the Unix flavor.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is a great introductory read that is not laid out like a reference manual as most other UNIX books on the market are. It takes you through at a reasonable pace with decent examples. A great buy for anybody slightly technical who wants to use UNIX as it was intended to be used.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The way to teach a windows user how to "Think Unix" 15 Aug 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is a "One Horse" book, that horse being to teach UNIX to those who have used Windows or Macintosh OS's their whole life. Although I have been learning UNIX for over a year, and would like to think I know a little bit about it, it tends to be hard to remember how to tell someone else how to "do this" or "that". This book is great for that. This takes a user who knows how to use a mouse and keyboard, and knows how to navigate under a "windowed" operating system into the world of command prompts and even the X-Windows system. Don't expect this to make you a system administrator, it doesn't even touch many of the things a user doesn't need to know, but it does fulfill its purpose. If you would like to learn UNIX so you can install LINUX on your machine at home, this can be a great start. While a UNIX's are different in some way's, Jon tends to stick to common themes, and points out when a command just has a different name. If you would like to "remember" what your users don't know, this is also great for you. It's a great book to recommend for a user to learn on their own.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not a life-saver, but surely a life-improver 23 Oct 2000
By Edward J. Hyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The reason I cannot call Mr. Lasser's book a "life-saver" is because I would not have perished from the Earth without it. Indeed, I probably would have figured almost all of the stuff in this book out, given six or seven years. But you gotta ask yourself, "at what cost?" In hair torn out (it's leaving fast enough, isn't it?), in hyperventilation (save that for the gym), in premature aging.
This book is not for Dummies. This book works best with people, as I may have indicated above, who Would Have Figured It Out by themselves. But while you may pretend to enjoy a rugged hike through the steeper parts of the learning curve, Mr. Lasser's book is like strapping on a jet-pack.
The book is conversational, sometimes funny (though it helps if you spend a lot of your time in front of computers), and extremely direct. If you are just curious about what this Unix thing might be good for, read the book slowly, learn a lot, and gain a solid foundation for becoming the captain of your computing destiny. If you have something you need to get done, read it quickly, learn-- well, a lot, and get where you're going in a hurry.
One caution: this book does expect that you will read it. It is not a ready reference, it is not designed for index-backward utilization. It is a short course in the skeletal framework of Unix, and not a hypertext instruction manual. If you are unaccustomed to reading as it was practiced before computer self-help books arrived to chaff the bookstores of our nation, you will not derive the maximum benefit from this book.
I recommend this book to (prospective) users of unix systems who take pleasure in reading, and need to learn a great deal very quickly.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! But be careful of your expectations. 21 April 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Cutting to the chase; an excellent book! I strongly recommend it if you are clear about what it is intended to accomplish. (The author even goes so far as to state his intent in the Introduction.)
This book gives an overall understanding of the underpinnings of the Unix (and therefore the Linux) operating systems. It provides a broad-brush overview of how and why 'nix works the way it does, from file structures to manual formats.
It does not provide detailed instruction in setting up or operating a system, in administering security programs or protocols, or even in programming.
But if you learn like I do (actually, like most people do...) your learning cycle is greatly shortened if you first get a broad-brush overview. It provides a foundation for all the details that come later.
If your intent is to learn *nix, my suggestion would be to buy or download a distribution (heck, some 'detail' books even come with one). Then go through the pain and suffering of installing it. (Hint: this is the reason to buy a book or distribution; the manual is very useful!) Then, buy this book to understand what your new system is doing - and why. Once you have, you'll be able to use the detail books, the 'bibles,' far more effectively. You'll even be able to use the documentation that comes with the system - or is readily available on the web - the way it is intended to be used.
It was been noted in a previous review that there are a number of technical inaccuracies and typos in the book. I suspect this is the price to be paid for the rapid release of technical books we see these days. I, for one, would rather put up with some errors that an on-line errata clears up than have to wait until a book is perfect, but completely out of date and useless.
If you think about it, having the problems corrected quickly via on-line 'patch' is the business model of the modern world!
Again, a strong recommendation for this one. It's a very useful document to have, know, and refer to!
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where was this when I needed it? 25 Oct 2000
By Timothy Walker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is one of the finest elementary Unix primers ever written. Rather than focusing on specific flavors or specific results, this book teaches Unix at the conceptual level, giving you the skills needed to get at least a little work done on any system (like how to read man pages, how to navigate X windows, and how to use the editor of the gods, vi). Additionally, the material on shell scripting and networking was exceptional.
While this book would serve well as a textbook (it is well-indexed and includes review questions), it is also a prime choice for new Linux users of the "I got it installed, now what?" variety. The only things holding back my fifth star are the minor but unfortunately frequent errors (but it is a first printing and, to the author's credit, errata is available online). All in all, a great book, certain to get better with time.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unix from the inside looking out 12 Oct 2000
By "wesley@panix.com" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Funny, unorthodox, well organized, this book is a great survey of the unix family of OSes, useful both for newcomers to the system with basic computing familiarity & for those who (like me) have used & learned unix haphazardly for years.
The first chapter, rather than teaching you frequently-used commands & their options, describes how to find & decipher documentation! The heart (or possibly the lymphatic system) of unix is figuring stuff out for yourself --not an easy matter if you don't know how to find out what you want to know or interpret what you've found. If you've ever stared at a man page, wondering what was wrong with your brain that you couldn't understand a word of something so detailed & apparently written in English, this book is for you!
Subsequent chapters describe files (everything in unix is a file), processes, redirection & pipes, networking, regular expressions, shells, etc. --a holistic overview of unix as a complete system.
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