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Customer Review

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, comprehensive guide, 17 May 2012
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This review is from: The Linux Command Line: A Complete Introduction (Paperback)
The command line is a powerful tool that experienced computer users will really benefit from learning. When I first started using Linux about ten years ago, it was difficult to avoid the command line. It seemed like a chore at first, but after learning only a few commands, I found it to be a satisfying and efficient way of getting things done. This book provides a nice, usable introduction to the ins and outs of the Linux command line, along with an extensive survey of command line tools and their uses. The style is somewhere inbetween a reference book and a hands-on guide - the writing is friendly and interesting, but concise, and a lot of ground is covered. Solid examples are given for all of the common tools, along with a number of more obscure ones.

A real strength of The Linux Command Line is its task-based approach. Related commands are grouped together, with the discussion flowing logically from the simpler aspects of a task through to what can be achieved with the more advanced tools on offer. This guarantees that there will be something in every chapter for both beginners and more advanced readers alike. Indeed, the grouping of common commands with less well-known ones in each chapter means that there's lots of potential for discovering neat new tricks. A number of key commands are treated in a careful, detailed manner, which serves to equip the reader with some very powerful tools. I especially appreciated the extended sections on commands like find and sed, and thorough discussions of concepts like redirection and expansion. These had always seemed like something of a mystery to me, but now I know how they work, I use them all of the time! There is also a large section on shell scripting, covering over a quarter of the book, and chapters on essentials like basic system administration, text processing, and regular expressions.

I have only two real criticisms. The first is that a few important commands are glossed over more than I would have liked. The need to skim over some topics is understandable, given the wide scope of the book, but it can still be a little disappointing. For example, SSH is an extremely important tool for system administrators, but it only has a couple of pages worth of discussion, which is barely enough to scratch the surface. More detail on complex tools such as this would be welcome, perhaps at the expense of some of the less immediately-useful material in the lengthy shell scripting guide. My second complaint is that a few chapters are rather distribution-specific, choosing to specialise to popular distros like Debian and Red Hat. While it's unrealistic to expect every Linux distro to be covered, it would have been nice to see a slightly broader listing of distro-specific command line installation tools, for example. Happily, this criticism only applies to a handful of chapters, and the vast majority of the material is fully distro-independent.

All in all, The Linux Command Line will serve as a useful reference/guide for those interested in taking control of their computer with the command line. It covers a wide range of topics, but avoids being dry, list-y, or superficial for the most part, and should be suitable for beginners and intermediates alike. Whether you are interested in learning the command line from scratch, or simply want to improve your existing skills, this book will provide pretty much everything you need.
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