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Unix : the textbook (3rd ed.)
Sarwar S., Koretsky R., Chapman & Hall/CRC, Boca Raton, FL, 2017. 1380 pp.  Type: Book (978-1-482233-58-2)
Date Reviewed: Aug 29 2017

This 1380-page, five-pound behemoth of a “textbook” is unlikely to burden the backpacks of operating system (OS) students, but it certainly provides a definitive academic and professional reference for one of the most pervasive software technologies of the past half-century. The book is indeed a textbook for university OS courses, with extensive exercises backed up by thorough diagrams, screen shots, and command examples, along with well-written explanations of the myriad Unix commands.

The authors, whose decades of teaching experience clearly show in the content and organization of the book, cover everything from basic OS concepts to the rich history of Unix, and include basic command-line (CLI) and graphical user interface (GUI) instructions. The material is suitable for learning true Unix systems such as Oracle (Sun) Solaris and BSD, as well as OS relatives like OpenIndiana and Apple’s OS X. Even those who are learning and using Linux would learn much from this book, since that OS derives so much of its functionality and design from the original Unix.

All aspects of Unix use and administration are covered in depth, making this volume more than a textbook. Professional system administrators and software developers who work on Unix platforms will find helpful guidance for software development using the traditional Bourne and C shell scripting languages, including a chapter on Python, which is often included and supported on Unix and related OSs.

Although Unix has been around for nearly five decades, it remains an essential technology even today in its various forms. The book recognizes the continuing evolution of this OS environment, covering modern features like the ZFS file system and virtualization using containers.

As comprehensive as this textbook is, one significant disappointment is the relative brevity of its index. Such a thorough coverage of the OS demands a correspondingly complete index, since the lasting utility of this book will be as a desk reference. The printed volume is also available as an ebook, however, which would make searching the content a bit easier, as well as significantly lightening the load of students’ textbook collections.

Sarwar and Koretsky provide a GitHub web repository for the book’s errata, program source code, and answers to the chapter exercises. They also include relevant web resources in that repository, which complement the printed material, and the publisher, CRC Press, maintains a website of instructor resources. Computer science instructors and practitioners will gain much from reviewing and using this complete and accessible reference.

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Reviewer:  Harry J. Foxwell Review #: CR145507
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