Unix Power Tools - 3rd Edition
Posted: 17-Apr-2003

Mac Guild Grade

Publisher: O'Reilly


Reviewer: Judd Spitzer $69.95

Unix Power Tools - 3rd Edition

Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Shelly Powers, Jerry Peek, Tim O'Reilly and Mike Loukides
ISBN: 0-596-00330-7
714 pages, $69.95 US

I know what you're thinking; this is a Macintosh Group, why are we reviewing Unix books. Most people are aware that at the core of the new Mac OS is a version or flavor of Unix, BSD to be exact. I hear everyone screaming that we don't need no stinkin' terminal window, or command line. We're Mac Users! And to those of you who don't do much more than surf the net and some word processing, you're probably right. However, if the idea of 1000's of pieces of complete free software appeals to you; if being part of a larger computing community appeals to you, then you'll really enjoy know more about the Unix features in Mac OS X.

Unix Power Tools by Powers, Peek, O'Reilly and Loukides really lives up to its reputation. They say don't judge a book by its cover, and maybe because they chose a nice power drill on the front cover, when in fact the Jaws of Life would have made a more appropriate tool. This book ROCKS!
First off, this book uses the talents of many experts to give insight and well-designed information on the Unix OS. They have not forgotten however that there are numerous versions of Unix and numerous shells that people prefer to use. The standard shell used on Mac OS X is the TCSH Shell, and the book does address Mac OS X users.

Second, this book makes excellent use of a cross-reference system that I personally have not seen done before. If the author wants you to know about a command or program, that reference is simply made in a gray colored text, and you can choose to view it, if you need to get a refresher on that topic.

Third, this book is extremely comprehensive and with 1116 pages, they spare no expense on ensuring that they covered all the bases. With being comprehensive however, this is no tutorial. This book is not so much about the step-by-step how to approach, but rather the important information that you need to know about the different commands and programs that are not easily found or included in the MAN pages.
  • Unix Basics
  • Setting up your environment, including X Windows and various shells
  • Files and Directories (and the commands associated with their management)
  • Editors (vi, Emacs and more)
  • Understanding Processes and the Kernel
  • Scripting (Shell programming and debugging)
  • Advanced environment managing (software installation, perl, python and more)
  • Communications and Connectivity (devices, printing, TCP/IP, and connecting to MS Windows)
  • Security (everything you need to know but didn't know what to ask)
That's just a taste of what awaits the eager reader.
Target Audience
This is not the kind of book that beginners will find useful, but the intermediate/advanced user will quickly see this as an excellent reference tool. If you are familiar with Unix and you only want to buy one book, then this is the book to buy. It covers Unix in a very comprehensive manner, providing excellent insight that the end user will use. If you are setting up a network, or just want to run Open Office with an XWindows client, then this book may be of significant help.
Mac Guild Grade
A Outstanding
Final Words
Mac Users shouldn't forget that not only do we have the easiest GUI in the world, we also have the most powerful OS in the world for personal computers: Unix. This book does a great job at illustrating and understanding that power.