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UNIX PowerTools [Paperback]

Jerry Peek , Tim O'Reilly , Mike Loukides
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Unix Power Tools Unix Power Tools 4.8 out of 5 stars (4)
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Book Description

12 Aug 1997

Ideal for UNIX users who hunger for technical -- yet accessible -- information,UNIX Power Tools, 2nd Edition, consists of tips, tricks, concepts, and freeware (CD-ROM included). It also covers add-on utilities and how to take advantage of clever features in the most popular UNIX utilities.Loaded with even more practical advice about almost every aspect of UNIX, this edition addresses the technology that UNIX users face today, differing from the first edition in a number of important ways.First, it slants the blend of options and commands more toward the POSIX utilities, including the GNU versions; the bash and tcsh shells have greater coverage, but we've kept the first edition's emphasis on the core concepts of sh and csh that will help you use all UNIX shells; and, Perl is more important than awk these days, so we've de-emphasizedawk in this edition.This is a browser's book...like a magazine that you don't read from start to finish, but leaf through repeatedly until you realize that you've read it all. The book is structured so that it bursts at the seams with cross references. Interesting "sidebars" explore syntax or point out other directions for exploration, including relevant technical details that might not be immediately apparent. You'll find articles abstracted from other O'Reilly books, new information that highlights program "tricks" and "gotchas," tips posted to the Net over the years, and other accumulated wisdom.The 53 chapters in this book discuss topics like file management, text editors, shell programming -- even office automation. Overall, there's plenty of material here to satisfy even the most voracious appetites. The bottom line? UNIX Power Tools is loaded with practical advice about almost every aspect of UNIX. It will help you think creatively about UNIX, and will help you get to the point where you can analyze your own problems. Your own solutions won't be far behind.The CD-ROM includes all of the scripts and aliases from the book, plusperl, GNU emacs, netpbm (graphics manipulation utilities),ispell,screen, the sc spreadsheet, and about 60 other freeware programs. In addition to the source code, all the software is precompiled for Sun4, Digital UNIX, IBM AIX, HP/UX, Red Hat Linux, Solaris, and SCO UNIX.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1122 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 2 edition (12 Aug 1997)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 1565922603
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565922600
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 17.8 x 5.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,018,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"Unix Power Tools is a reference that belongs on the bookshelf of nearly everyone who works with UNIX...." -- Mack Lundy, Williamsburg Macromedia User Group, August 2002

From the Author

Background story of UPT: how we made it and why
Hi. Thanks for your interest in this book. Here's some history and info. This is a bit rambling, but I hope it'll help you understand the book's design and purpose better--and might be fun to read, too.

In the early 1980's, I taught myself to use UNIX--with some help from a couple of colleagues and the early Usenet newsgroups. (There were almost no UNIX books back then--just the "man pages.") As I read Usenet and fiddled around over the next five or six years, I made notes and kept copies of articles with non-obvious and elegant tips. (Yes, back then, with only a handful of Usenet sites and no spam, Usenet was actually useful!) Later, when I started to work for the publisher as a staff writer, all these random notes and article copies were a perfect start for this experimental book project that O'Reilly folks had been dreaming up.

We didn't want to make another tutorial that you had to read start-to-finish: people who already knew some UNIX would have to wade through the stuff they did know to find the good stuff they didn't. Though the World Wide Web wasn't around in 1991, we knew about hypertext and decided it would be a great way to organize the book. The big questions then were how to put it together and whether it would sell! The folks at O'Reilly (I've left O'Reilly since, BTW) are a really creative bunch who took risks and tried innovative things. Thanks to UNIX tools like troff, sed, and perl, we cooked up this readable and useful format that I don't think any commercial publishing package can emulate. (Maybe that's why I've never seen another book like this, even though it's been very popular?)

Once we decided on the format, and the book design and production folks came up with a way to make it happen, we had to figure out how to shoehorn the huge amount of material into "just" 1,000 pages. (Back then, 1,000 pages was a big computer book! Not any more. :-(...) We tracked down authors of the original Usenet articles, from years back. (Most email addresses were absolute "bang-paths" back then, like ucbvax!tektronix!tekid!jerryp, and you had to know which machine could route to which other machines. Years later, finding people who'd moved or changed hosts could be a real challenge.) When we contacted all these gurus, several of them got involved in the book project with us--updating their original Usenet material and writing new stuff, too. (BTW, I never did meet many of those people face-to-face. Most of our contact was through email.)

I, my co-authors, and several other folks, wrote a lot of original material for this book... maybe three-quarters of the book came from material we wrote. (But that story isn't as much fun to tell.)

Two years later, after lots of 16-hour workdays, many versions, and extensive technical review, we finished the beast. I'm so glad to see that all the work paid off (as the reviews here on amazon.com show...). I did basically all of the second edition myself, in 1997, with more emphasis on Linux and GNU utilities. The book is still updated often, printing to printing, from reader comments and from changes in the UNIX/open-systems field. It feels great that so many people find it useful. I used to be an instructor, and my real pleasure in both teaching and writing comes when people get value from my work. I also like to hear suggestions and criticisms, so please feel free to email me... I'll try to work your changes into the book.


Jerry Peek jpeek@jpeek.com

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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I do not know about you, but for me, a book has to be pretty darn exceptional to persuade me to buy a second edition of a book which I already own the first. Unix Power Tools is one such book. It is simply packed with tons of useful tips which the authors have accumulated over decades of using Unix, and is a sort of `crème de la crème' of O'Reilly reference books.

Praise aside, the book is not for everyone. It is an intermediate level reference, not an introductory tutorial. If your problems are like "How do I delete a file?", you should read something else first, get acquainted with Unix, and then return to it. If, however, the questions you face are more like "How do I delete a file with a null name?", then this is exactly the book for you. Unless there is a real Unix wizard around you, this book is likely to earn you this title in your environment.

The second edition focuses on POSIX systems rather than on SysV/BSD, uses Bash and Tcsh instead of Sh, Ksh and Csh, and has moved from Awk to Perl. The two-colour printing is gone, though. Fortunately, the superb index - one of the best I have seen - is still here, and so are the cross-references in the text. Accompanying CD-ROM might be essential if you are living in the mountains of Tajikistan, but anybody connected to the Internet will probably prefer to download newer versions of software on-line.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My solution and savior... 8 Dec 1997
By A Customer
I was stuck in a corporate software mess with a compilation of legacy UNIX Script, awk and other languages calling and executing both locally and remotely. With only intermediate experience in UNIX, a rather large pot of coffee and Jerry Peeks UNIX tools I was able to filter through, straighten out, and document the nightmare legacy code within half the time I expected.

The book has an outstanding state of the art, referencing and indexing to key words and commands while you read. I did not find myself flipping back and forth to the index. I was able to get the information very quickly without loosing train of thought. A fantastic book, I have several UNIX books and many in other languages and this one has the best layout and most complete reference.

Only one suggestion... don't let this book go out of print for so long. I had to wait months to get this new version. The old version was sold out all over the US. Maybe I will buy a few extra copies for investment purposes.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Legendary Book 22 Mar 2002
By A Customer
Very occasionally a book is written about or for Unix System Administration, or Unix in general. If the author or publishers get the mix right it receives acclaim. Very, very occasionally one of those books achieves legendary status, by finding its way onto 98% of all Unix Sysadmins book shelves.
This book is one of those legendary tomes. Just about every Unix Sysadmin I know has a copy of this sitting alongside books like Evi Nemeth's "Unix Sys Admin Handbook". OK so it has a lot of information that isn't new to most sysadmins, but that's not where the beauty of the book lies. The real treasure is found in the countless nuggets of Unix info that have been long since forgotten, or yet to be learned.
In my humble opinion, a true Unix Classic! If like me, you earn a living from Unix, then think of this book as a carpenter would his set of chisels. You don't use them for every job, but when needed, can prove invaluable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hands down the best Unix book on the market. 2 Sep 1999
By A Customer
I've been a Unix user for over fourteen years ( Xenix, SCO, AIX, Solaris). This book covers the real problems Unix users and administrators face. If nothing else, the examples are worth the cost of the book. Many of those items in man pages which are mentioned but never shown in detail are covered. The best aspect of the book is the coverage of shell scripts especially the comparison of how things would be done using C, Bourne and Korn shells. Even without the CD, the book would still be worth it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for beginners, too! 29 April 1998
By A Customer
For the last several months I have been dealing with a Unix/Linux environmnet. I had no prior experience with Linux or Unix. However, I have to document and explain scripts, modules, and such every day as part of my work.

This is the first book that has given me bite-sized, useful information in an explanatory format that doesn't waste my time. Whereas O'Reilly's Running Linux helped me very little after a nearly-full read-through, Unix Power Tools has taught me something every time I pick it up. What's more, the chapters are small (and intriguing) enough that a flip-through during a bathroom break can send me back to the keyboard to try something new.

It's like an encyclopedia and your friend the SA in one. Get this and Essential System Administration and you cover the practical needs and the complex activities (respectively) of working in Unix-like-environments in two volumes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mama Mia! 10 Aug 1998
By A Customer
Excellent! This book covers all major versions of UNIX and then some.
The tips and tricks are easy to use and very pertinent.
Installing the software from the CD was a breeze! By far the best collection of freeware for UNIX I have ever seen.
The book was very well written. Those with some moderate UNIX experience will get the most out of this book.
A must have for any serious UNIX buff.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars If you already know Unix then you won't need this book!
I own a pretty impressive amount of books covering all aspects of Unix, but i have to say this book left me very dissapointed. Read more
Published on 10 Dec 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding !
I purchased the first edition when I saw it May 1993. It proved invaluable, I used that first edition so much it fell apart. Read more
Published on 18 July 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a (Unix) lifesaver!
Without this, I will be spending hours editing files by hand (c.f. using regular expressions), clueless in using some of the most powerful tools on Unix (e.g. Read more
Published on 9 Jun 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bible
This book always has an answer to whatever problems I come up against in UNIX sysadmin. Its teaming with handy hints, tips and clear explanations of problems.
Published on 23 Feb 2000 by Neil Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good book
basically as follows:
#include <iostream.h>
int main()
cout << "BUY THIS BOOK!!! Read more
Published on 26 Jun 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - Acts as both reference book and training guide
I am a business analyst and as such need to use UNIX on occasions but not in as much depth as say a UNIX systems administrator. Read more
Published on 10 Mar 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book!
This is by far the best Unix reference book on the market. I keep coming back to it again and again. I really love it. Read more
Published on 28 Jan 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Best "how-to" reference book I have seen. Must have.
I looked for this book on the recommendation of a co-worker. I read the reviews prior to purchasing, but reserved judgement until I saw it myself. Read more
Published on 8 Jan 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars The Quintessential Reference Book!
I work for a major software manufacturer on mostly UNIX systems and often have to delve into the esoteric world of awk, sed, and perl to automate tasks. Read more
Published on 7 Jan 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars All the tricks you never find in the manual pages!!!
Absolutely essential book once you are beyond the online manual pages. With 15 years of unix experience, I still return time and time again to this book for help when all else... Read more
Published on 15 Oct 1998
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