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Review: William E. Shotts Jr.: The Linux Command Line – A Complete Introduction (O’Reilly Media)

I approached this book as an aging hacker who started out network computing on DEC VAX and VMS, but spent more than a dozen years in Windows-close business environments, and now gets back to its roots with a programming habit turning serious. My UNIX experience got rusty during the years, and I was surprised to find a complete generation of programmers operating without a slight knowledge of the command line. I wanted to get a practical grasp again to make my day-to-day data crunching toolset wider with all the command line can provide me with – not least compell the youngsters who cannot help themselves starting out with a new JAVA class to solve any problem.

The book is well-written, perhaps a bit too verbose, but it’s easily accessible even for beginners. However, I’m not totally sure how it should be consumed as I found it a bit middle-of-the-road, too detailed for a reference book, but not covering all the razorsharp workhorse approach of UNIX commands. In my case, text cruncing related basics, such as grep or regex is just slightly touched, you can’t even find the word ’greedy’ in the whole book. The back cover states that the target audience of the book is someone who already uses Linux with a GUI, but now wants to look under the hood.

I’m not totally sure that this journey will amaze and show the real strength in the engines, but for me, it’s a keeper, I’ll definitely skim it to refresh my memories building my new Linux coding workstation. Check for yourself at O'Reilly.

Score: 4 of 5.

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