Working on the Linux command line can be a little daunting if you haven’t had an introductory course to it. Googling every single command and finicky detail of how the shell works can get annoying. Linux Pocket Guide wants to give you a basic understanding of the underlying concepts of the Linux (and more generally Unix) command line, and present its “vocabulary”, i.e. the basic set of commands which help users get stuff done, so that you at least know what you’re Googling (or man’ing, for that matter). Without understanding certain concepts, it can be difficult to get beyond copying and editing files on Linux. If you want to keep things under control and do more complicated things like monitoring and stopping non-responsive programs, you have to understand certain topics to a certain extent, such as the difference between a job and a process, or the difference between a hard and a soft link. Linux Pocket Guide does a great job of providing a good basic knowledge of these and similar topics, and the relevant commands.
The commands included are gathered undered various topic areas, such as file or directory operations, viewing processes, or email. Relevant commands are then listed, with an explanation of what they do, the most important options, and sample uses and output. Commands for Gnome- or KDE-dependent GUI applications are mixed with textual ones, although more textual commands are discussed. Despite having used the command line for a while, I had the chance to read up on a number of commands I hadn’t heard about, especially for text processing, such as cut and tr. Linux has simple commands that should be given a first chance when trying to achieve a goal, instead of going for the big guns like sed or awk, and this book is great as a list and short manual of such simple commands. The author sometimes goes a bit overboard on this, and includes ancient commands such as mt that can be used to rewind and read from a magnetic tape, but fortunately there aren’t that many such cases.
The explanations in Linux Pocket Guide are much better than most of the results one gets on the web; I will be keeping this book on my work desk for reference and the occasional remembrance of how rich the Linux command line is.