The Linux Command Line, by William E. Shotts, Jr.

by Peter

Over the last 10 or so years, I have done most of my work on Windows machines. However, more and more I have also used Linux based machines. Partly because that is the operating system on my server, and partly because I run a local development server on a Linux machine (I use Ubuntu), and use this to test technology I consider using.

Linux is powerful, but also quite different from Windows and very complex. For sure, it is possible to do a few relatively simple things using the GUI in Ubuntu, but to get something done you quickly need to leave the mouse on the side of the desk and start working on the command line.

Often – and much more often than I like to admit – I have been unable to figure out how to get something done in a neat and efficient fashion using the command line. Then I have done – I guess – the same as many others and perhaps even you: over to the browser, key in something like «Linux symbolic link» or whatever. Basically the World Wide Web has been my guide and reference book as far as Linux is concerned.

The Linux Command LineHaving finally sat down and worked my way through a book on Linux – William E. Shott’s excellent and even at times funny book about the Linux Command Line, with the very modest subtitle «A Complete Introduction», I can only say that in retrospect my strategy probably was not optimal. While frenetic Internet searches most often have given me results that have allowed me to get the job done there and then, they probably have been suboptimal from a learning point of view and may even have cost me lots of time over the years.

A systematic and fairly comprehensive book like The Linux Command Line simply makes the power of Linux accessible in a very different manner. Not only does it contain all the basic commands and tell me how to use the most used programs, it also gives alternatives and is written in a way that promotes understanding. And it makes it easy to place what I am doing now or what I need right now in a wider context of similar classes of tasks and similar tools. So using the book I have a feeling my learning is more structured, although some part of that probably is due to the fact that I have sat myself down and spent some time browsing and reading.

Anyway, I found The Linux Command Line to be great guide to the inner workings and dark abysses of Linux. Using it as my guide, I have written a toolkit of useful scripts and saved alibis that makes life easier for me. In the process, I also think I have become a more confident and better system administrator of my servers. The book has almost all I could wish for: the one thing I personally missed was an introduction to Emacs, an old friend I have met again in my Linux box and like much better than Vim. But that is a very minor issue and just me not liking Vim all that much.

The Linux Command Line is a great book to learn from as well as a good Linux reference. I highly recommend it!

Praise for The Linux Command Line:

“I can honestly say I have found THE beginner’s guide to Linux.”
Linux Journal

“This is exactly what a Linux beginner needs to get up to speed quickly. The book goes beyond simply walking through all of the command line utilities, and ventures into the realm of theory and how things work together.”
—Nicholas C. Zakas, web software engineer and author

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