Top critical review
8 people found this helpful
Reasonable introduction if your completely new to the command line.
on 15 February 2012
I'm a big fan of command line interfaces; they may be more difficult to work out than WIMP interfaces but they are considerably more powerful. However I'm not such a fan of The Linux Command Line: A Complete Introduction. Yes it's a pretty reasonable introduction to the command line interface but I found enough irritations in it to put me off. Let's start off on a positive note; coverage is good. The basics of file and system manipulation, environment tools and other tasks are all covered. However the coverage is somewhat variable. In some cases a command is introduced in a nicely tabulated format along with the frequently used flags and options but in other cases the pertinent options are buried in a screed of text which isn't nearly as useful. Obviously some of the chapters will be more useful than others. 'Manipulating files and directories', 'Redirection', 'Permissions' (though the author insists on using some of his own terminology instead of the standard *NIX/linux terminology when discussing file permissions which is quite likely to cause confusion), 'Processes', 'A gentle introduction to Vi', 'Networking', 'Searching for files', 'Archiving and backup', 'Regular expressions' and 'Compiling programs' are all essential reading. Other chapters are probably less useful; 'Package management', 'Storage media', 'Formatting output' and 'Printing' are either largely handled automagically or more efficiently managed via a graphical interface on any reasonably modern linux distribution.
My main problem with the book though is the fact that the final roughly 20% of the book is given over to writing shell scripts when other commands or tools have been glossed over as they are out of the scope of the book or have other books written on them (e.g. awk). This is fair enough when you are writing an introduction to a command line but don't then claim that your introduction is complete and spend a large chunk of the book covering something that is really outside the scope of a command line introduction! Personally I would have preferred this space to be given over to a more in depth appraisal of some of the command line essentials. For example Vi could easily stand another chapter.
If you're a complete linux command line neophyte you may find the book useful but if you've spent any time using it then you may well find it covers no new ground and may well be downright frustrating.