Lasser starts with a chapter on documentation, explaining how to use "man" to read manual entries and touching on other forms of documentation. He then introduces the building blocks of Unix — files and processes and redirection and pipes. A brief look at TCP/IP networking, showing how to interact directly with some common network services using telnet, is followed by an introduction to vi and sed and basic regular expressions. Four chapters then deal with shell scripting in more detail, touching on differences between shells, variables and quoting, control structures, and aliases, functions, and scripts. A quick look at X explains its general design, something of the variety of window managers and desktops available, and basic configuration of startup, resources, and fonts.
Obviously a lot is left out of this (there is nothing about system administration, for example), but it provides solid foundations for further learning. And a number of topics sneak in "in passing": a mention of ssh (and associated legal issues) and a little bit about termcap and terminfo, among other things. Some practice problems are included, simple exercises to test understanding and help learning; answers to these are provided in the appendices, along with a short glossary (which includes pointers to other resources).
Think Unix has an unfortunate number of typos, including a few in code examples. And there are a few things I might have done differently — I'd have ditched most of the grainy greyscale half-page screenshots of different window managers and desktop environments, for example. Overall, however, it's a great book and the biggest problem it poses me is working out which of my "cluefull but not Unix-literate" friends to pass my review copy on to.
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- buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
- information from Jon Lasser
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- - books about computing