It’s not often I do book reviews. In fact, I’ve only done one other book review, and that was for Cooking for Geeks which wrapped my love of tech with my love of food. In that book, there was a chef who shared recipes via Twitter. In this book, by Don R. Crawley, we take sharing on Twitter to a new subject: Linux.
The full title of the book is Tweeting Linux: 140 Linux Configuration Commands Explained in 140 Characters or less. This book explores one of the things that, once you go beyond just installing Linux, you come to realize is invaluable — and that is the command line. Yes I said the command line. What is that? Well, if you are around my age and first started using computers in the days of MS/DOS, then you probably have an idea. Before the pretty GUI’s became the norm, computers had a command line interface that was and is very powerful, but is a bit hard to understand. Learning the command line, or the shell as we call it in the Linux community, will save you so much time once you become fluent. This book attempts to teach and inform the reader of some of the commands you will find handy when you find yourself at a BASH or Bourne Again Shell prompt.
As you go through the book, you’ll find that it’s arranged with the tweet that was sent as the righthand page; a page with screenshots showing you different ways of using the command appears on the left. At first, this was not apparent to me as I have an eBook copy of the book, but if you get a hard copy this is the way it is laid out. This makes total sense with a dead tree version, but not so much in the days of eBooks. As it is, in eBook form, the layout of the book is a little confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it you can find what you need. I hope that if they bring out an updated version of the book they fix this so it makes a bit more sense. Talking with Don via e-mail, he definitely thinks they will be doing it differently for the next version of the book; the print book will keep its current layout and a different layout for the eBook version.
The information in the book is good though, especially for those who barely know what a terminal is. For example, how do I add a user? Well just use the adduser command. How? Don shows you with a screenshot and a description of what was done in the screenshot. Each command also covers if there are differences between distributions. For example, there’s a version of Linux called Debian that uses a script for adduser instead of a binary command like Fedora and other distributions. This kind of information is valuable when you are just learning the command line. If you already know a lot of Bash, then this book probably isn’t for you, but it’s one you may want to have in your library to pass on to a brand new Linux user.
The command line may not be as essential for new Linux users as it was back when I did my first Red Hat Linux version 6 install many years ago. However, learning the basics of Bash and some rudimentary Bash scripting can be a time saver. Plus once you figure out the basics, you’ll be ready for other books which will expand upon these basic commands and let you do some pretty amazing stuff that you can’t even imagine doing with a point and click. This book is perfect for learning how to walk before you try to fly.
What I Like: Nice arrangement for print version; good enough to get started learning bash commands
What Needs Improvement: Different arrangement needed for eBook versions