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A Practical Guide to Solaris by Mark G. Sobell

**** A Practical Guide to Solaris ~ Usually ships in 24 hours
Mark G. Sobell / Paperback / Published 1999
Amazon price: $26.95
Paperback - 1120 pages 1 edition (June 1999)
Addison-Wesley Pub Co; ISBN: 020189548X ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.62 x 9.62 x 7.39
Amazon.com Sales Rank: 388
Avg. Customer Review: *****
Number of Reviews: 3
 
A very good book, probably not only the best introductory Solaris book available but the best overall introductory Unix book. I used this book for an introductory Unix class at the university and can attest that students grasp most material very easily. Exercises given after each chapter can serve a basis of useful homework assignments.

This edition is a result of polishing the material in three previous editions and that shows. For example in the Chapter  2 (p.23 the author mentions the problem of using Ctrl-Z by the beginners who attempt to undo some command line changes. But this is not a Windows environment and that actually postpone the program -- a very puzzling situation for beginners for which very few Unix beginner books authors provide a helpful advice. Another example of attention to details is that this is one of the few intro Unix books that recommends a reasonable .profile file that make Solaris/Unix more user friendly. All-in-all tremendous amount of useful tips can be found in almost any chapter and this attention to details really make this book an outstanding example of the introductory Unix textbook. 

Another excellent feature of the book is that Solaris/Unix command line environment is studied along with X windows environment. such an approach is more modern that pure command line approach and it provides additional insights into how best use Solaris/Unix in a particular circumstances. For example I am convinced that the approach adopted in the book of using X-based editors first is an improvement over traditional methods of introducing students to vi from the beginning. In this case beginners can postpone struggling with vi until they get to speed with command line and that experience can simplify mastering vi features and permit to study vi in more depth. We should not forget than most people study Solaris/Unix after they learn Windows and  Sobell's book in one of the few that make necessary adjustments for this situation.

What I really like about Mark Sobell's Unix books is that all of them contain two parts:

As for shortcomings there are very few of them and they generally does not diminish the high value of the book. For some reason nawk and sed are covered not in the main chapters,  but only in the reference part. I would change this is a future edition. Grep and find probably also can be covered a small separate chapter after chapter 10 along with more material on regular expressions. Backup is also covered pretty superficially and this is another are were the book can be improved. I doubt about wisdom of covering two shells in an introductory book, but C shell is more user friendly and ksh is more widely used in commercial environment, so the author was definitely hard pressed to cover both. Perl is not mentioned at all but in proactive Perl killed shell scripting in all but simple and special purpose (startup) cases. And although the decision whether to include Perl chapter or not should probably be better left tot the author, I think that even if this is not the case it make sense to provide a supplement with Perl overview.
The author web site is www.sobell.com. You can read an Amazon interview with Mark G. Sobell.

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