CERN Accelerating science

This website is no longer maintained. Its content may be obsolete. Please visit for current CERN information.

CERN home page CERN home page The Consult page The Consult page This page The Consult page This page This page Help, Info about this page

Previous: Previous News from the User Support Bookshop (See printing version)
Next: Next The UCO Reference Cards - Current List

The COBS Review - Books on Unix (OS and Programming)

  Nicole Crémel and Roger Woolnough IT/User Support

This is a brief assessment on the Unix-related books offered at the CERN Book Shop (COmputing Books Selling Service).

Note that the list of books proposed may evolve in time according to the needs (e.g. new editions, new software or product versions, etc.) and to user feedback (at our e-mail address

At the date of publication of this CNL (December 1998), the list of books proposed in the category Unix is:

  1. A Practical Guide to the Unix system  (Sobell)   -  [I/A]
  2. A Practical Guide to the Unix system 5  (Sobell)   -  [I/A]
  3. Unix for the Impatient  (Abrahams,Larson)   -  [B/I]
  4. Unix in a Nutshell  (Gilly)   -  [B/I]
  5. Using csh and tcsh  (Dubois)   -  [S/B/I]
  6. Learning the Korn Shell  (Rosenblatt)   -  [S/B/I]
  7. Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment  (Stevens)   -  [A]
  8. Unix Power Tools  (Peek,Loukides,OReilly)   -  [A]
  9. Pretty Good Privacy  (Garfinkel)   -  [S/A]
  10. Practical Unix and Internet Security  (Garfinkel,Spafford)   -  [A]
  11. Essential System Administration  (Frisch)   -  [A]
  12. Unix System Administration Handbook  (Nemeth,Snyder,Seebass,Hein)   -  [I/A]
  13. Unix Comment Faire....  (Taylor,Armstrong)   -  [B]
  14. La Programmation sous Unix  (Rifflet)   -  [I/A]
[B] Beginners   -   [I] Intermediate   -   [A] Advanced   -   [S] Specialized

  • A Practical Guide to the Unix system - [I/A]
    The originally chosen reference for CERN UNIX users for over 5 years. One of our best selling books that contains a reference for the complete system. Provides coverage of a wide range of commands and utilities for SunOS 4 and BSD 4.3. Includes chapters on emacs, vi, shells, networking, ftp, sed & awk, and X-Windows/Motif (in fact most utilities that users need) for reference purposes.

  • A Practical Guide to the Unix system 5 - [I/A]
    An identical book to the above except that it is geared to System 5 release 4.2. All you need as a reference book for the Unix system.

  • Unix for the Impatient - [B/I]
    This is the book recommended for learning Unix and now comes complete with CD-ROM with hyper-text version. It is not as comprehensive as the two Sobell books but provides a good tutorial from basics to mini-reference level. Includes all the utilities you will need to get started as a future Unix guru.

  • Unix in a Nutshell - [B/I]
    This latest version is an excellent example in the Nutshell series. This is a comprehensive list complete with generous descriptives of all UNIX commands. It not only covers user and programmer commands but also shell commands, GNU emacs and vi text editing, sed and awk, make, SCCS and RCS. A complete mini reference book useful to beginner and accomplished user alike.

  • Using csh and tcsh - [S/B/I]
    As the title suggests this is the book for all users wanting to get more out of one of the shells recommended at CERN. This book describes how to use these shells interactively from the beginning. A small but well written tutorial and reference alike.

  • Learning the Korn Shell - [S/B/I]
    Again a self explanatory title providing a good insight into the facets of the shell which include both commands and shell scripting. The book also includes an extended programming example of the shell script debugger.

  • Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment - [A]
    This book provides the experienced C programmer a tutorial on the UNIX system call interface and the most important functions found in the ANSI C Library. Written by Richard Stevens in his typical manner of providing each new function with an example. Essential reading for experienced programmers and developers.

  • Unix Power Tools - [A]
    The book and CD-ROM contain an enormous collection of free software for UNIX power users. It has tips, scripts, and techniques to make using UNIX easier and more effective. Every script and command set is available on the CD so it can be simply copied across to your own system. The second edition of this book was published at the start of the year so all the utilities remain well up to date.

  • Pretty Good Privacy - [S/A]
    A complete users guide to the freely available encryption programme. The programme was originally available to only military and intelligence agencies to encrypt both files and mail. The book contains details of the development of PGP as well as insights into the use of tamper-proof signatures.

  • Practical Unix and Internet Security - [A]
    Again a very recent 2nd edition of this book deigned for Unix administrators as well as serious users. Contains information on WWW security and firewalls, wrapper and proxy programmes, secure programming and how to secure TCP/IP services like ftp and smtp. Lots of information on the Unix filesystem, cryptography, backups, logging as well as physical and telephone security. An extensive appendix deals with freely available security tools, references and security related organisations.

  • Essential System Administration - [A]
    This book as its title suggests, deals with all aspects of administration under Unix as well as covering networking, electronic mail, security and kernel configurations. The book mentioned after this one differs in that it takes a more practical approach so the choice is in the style.

  • Unix System Administration Handbook - [I/A]
    This book takes a practical approach to system administration and comes with a CD-ROM that contains lots of packages, documents and examples. As stated in the previous explanation it is a matter of personal choice and writing style of which book to choose.

  • Unix Comment Faire.... - [B]  
    Ce livre dans la série "Comment Faire" s'adresse aux débutants qui trouveront toutes les solutions à leurs besoins quotidiens. Avec beaucoup d'exemples ce livre est idéal pour quelqu'un qui ne souhaite pas connaître le système Unix comme un expert mais seulement comme un utilisateur.

  • La Programmation sous Unix - [I/A] 
    Ce livre écrit en français s'adresse aux utilisateurs qui veulent tout savoir sur le système Unix. Très bien structuré, ce livre peut être utilisé aussi bien comme "cours d'instruction" que comme livre de référence. Equivalent aux livres de Sobell, il contient tous les points nécessaires pour devenir un vrai "guru Unix".

    Please note that in the next CNL a similar article will review the books offered on "Linux" at the CERN Book Shop.

    For matters related to this article please contact the author.

    Last Updated on December 14th, 1998 at 16:30:13
    Copyright © CERN 1998 -- European Laboratory for Particle Physics