Cover image for UNIX user's interactive workbook
UNIX user's interactive workbook
McMullen, John, (John Harvey), 1961-
Publication Information:
Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice Hall PTR, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxii, 598 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
"Totally integrated with a free, state-of-the art UNIX learning web site! -- Cover.
General Note:
Includes index.
Title Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library QA76.76.O63 M3998 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Afghanistan has long been considered the graveyard of empires. Throughout their history, Afghans have endured the ravages of foreign invaders, from marauding hordes and imperial armies to global superpowers, while demonstrating a fierce independence and strong resistance to outside occupiers. Those who have ventured into Afghanistan with notions of controlling its people have soon discovered that fighting in that rugged, hostile land is no easy task. Afghans have proven to be tenacious and unrelenting foes.

No Easy Task examines this legacy of conflict, particularly from a Canadian perspective. What emerges is the difficulty faced by foreign forces attempting to impose their will over Afghans who, for their part, have consistently adapted tactics and strategies to stymie and defeat those they perceive as invaders and interlopers. It is within this complexity and challenge that the difficult counter-insurgency must be fought.

Author Notes

John McMullen is Senior Technical Writer and Document Manager for Software, in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to UNIX.



Introduction Welcome to yet another introductory UNIX book. I'm glad you picked this one up, because I think you'll find it a bit different, and worth your time. Why is this book different? Well, it's one of the practical books, for starters. It concentrates on things you can do to learn to use UNIX. Every chapter is full of exercises and answers; every chapter ends with a project that makes use of what you've covered. And this book is supported in a way that others aren't. You're not alone in working on this book. If something in the book is giving you trouble, you can exchange solutions or hints with other readers (or me, even), just by going to the Web site or the newsgroup (more on those in a moment). There are three important topics that are not covered in this book, simply because every system (even every office!) does things differently. The topics are electronic mail, the World Wide Web, and Usenet news. There are other books that describe these topics in all their variety. Who This Book Is For This is a book for people who want to learn to use a UNIX computer system. It's not about programming, databases, Web surfing, or even popular networked shoot 'em-up games. Before you can do those things, you need to know the things in this book. This is a book of basics and tricks that you'll need. It's helpful if you've seen a computer (such as a PC) before, but it's not absolutely necessary. (Is there anyone left who hasn't seen a computer?) What is UNIX? There are two answers to this. 1. UNIX is a concurrent multitasking, multiuser computer-operating system. What does that mean? An operating system controls the computer's resources, distributing those resources among the different programs running on the computer. (On any UNIX system you use, there will always be more than one program running.) Although an operating system is itself a program, it isn't a program in the usual sense - you don't use the operating system the way you would use a word processor or a drafting program or a game. (By the way, the desire to play a game called "Space War" was one reason why the UNIX operating system was created, back in 1969.) Instead, the operating system provides the framework so the other programs can make use of the computer. To put it another way, if your spreadsheet is a car that gets you from here ("Here are the numbers") to there ("There are the answers"), then the operating system is the superstructure supporting that trip. It's the laws ("Right turn allowed on red light") and the control devices (one-way streets, and traffic lights). With those laws and support structures, thousands or millions of cars can share the roadways. Without the superstructure, collisions are inevitable. Multitasking means that more than one user-program can be run at once. (On a UNIX system, you can drive two cars at once, or drive a car and a skateboard.) And concurrent multiuser simply means that more than one user can use the machine at the same time. As with roads, you won't notice the effect until many users are using the system at once: too many users slow down everyone's trip. 2. The second answer is that UNIX is a registered trademark, licensed exclusively by The Open Group. That means that only systems that have passed certain tests given by The Open Group are allowed to call themselves UNIX systems. Since that testing (called "branding") costs oodles of money, there are a number of less expensive systems that look just like UNIX systems but aren't legally allowed to call themselves UNIX systems. Kind of like knowing how to drive but not being allowed to test for your license. (This includes systems such as LINUX and systems that conform to the POSIX standards.) In this book, I'm referring specifically to the Solaris operating system, which is a UNIX system, but almost everything I say is applicable to all of those other systems. If you think you already know everything in this book, maybe you're right. Consider reading one of the other Interactive Workbooks - there's a list of the series in the front of this book. What You'll Need You'll need access to a UNIX computer system. This means you need a shell account, and access to a terminal or a computer. You'll also need a pen or pencil and some paper. This book asks questions and expects you to answer them. Each chapter should take an hour or two; the early chapters take less time than the later chapters (and the chapter on the vi text editor will take the longest of all). How This Book Is Organized Each chapter contains a brief introduction and a series of Labs, and ends with a project that makes use of the information in the chapter. Suggested answers to the projects are found on the Web site, not in this book. Each Lab is organized in a similar way. After a brief introduction, there are a set of exercises and questions. (If you do the exercises, you can answer the questions.) After the questions for the Lab come the answers, and after the answers there's a multiple-choice quiz on the Lab. (Answers to the multiple-choice quizzes are in Appendix A.) As to the order of the chapters - you don't have to work on them in order. Obviously, I think you should; I put them in the order that makes the most sense to me. For example, if you're using a system with X Windows installed, you might want to do Chapter 13, "X Window System," right after you finish Chapter 2, "The Command Line." It's your book now and you can use it as you please. Some of the chapters fall into natural groups, and I do suggest you do the groups in sequence. You should work through Chapters 1-4 in sequence. They introduce the basic commands and concepts you'll use throughout the rest of the book. Chapters 5 and 6 ("Finding Help" and "Emergency Recovery") teach you how to find information when you need it, and how to recover from the kinds of minor emergencies you might encounter. Chapters 7 and 8 ("Finding Files" and "Regular Expressions") work together well. Honesty compels me to tell you that you could probably live your entire life without learning regular expressions, but I think they're well worth the effort. They make working with text much easier. You should do Chapter 9, "The vi Editor," because the vi editor is on every UNIX system. Even if you later go on to another editor later you should know at least how to exit the vi editor. Chapters 10 and 11 ("Working with Text Files" and "Printing Text Files") work together. Chapter 12 introduces a number of shortcuts and tricks to join commands together and to run more than one command at a time. Chapter 13, "The X Window System," describes the graphic user interface available with many UNIX systems. Conventions Used In This Book The following typographical conventions are followed in this book: cp file1 file2 A command you should enter into the computer $ echo $LOGNAME johnmc An example of output from the computer yourname Either an emphasized or defined word, or a placeholder, a word you should replace with a suitable value. You should be able to identify the questions in each section. There are also a few icons that help you locate important information: one for Advice, one for Tips, and one for the Web companion. About the Web Companion This book has a companion Web site, located at: Think of the Web site as a student lounge, where you can go and find the answers to the projects or just chat with other students about the course or topics of interest. There's even a corner where the author (that would be me) presents items that didn't get into the book or answers questions or just possibly corrects a mistake. Visit the Web site periodically to share and discuss your answers. Excerpted from UNIX Users Interactive Workbook by John McMullen All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

1 Your First Session
Logging In
Changing Your Password
Basic Commands
Logging Out
Test Your Thinking
2 The Command Line
The Structure of a Command
File Redirection and Pipes
Test Your Thinking
3 About Files and Directories
The Directory Hierarchy
Rules for File Names
Information About Files
File and Directory Permissions
Test Your Thinking
4 Files and Directories
Displaying the Contents of a Directory
Specifying Files Using Wildcards
Removing Files
Creating and Removing Directories
Copying and Linking Files and Directories
Moving and Renaming Files and Directories
Test Your Thinking
5 Finding Help
Reading On-line Help with the Man Command
Finding the Right Man Page
Xman for the X Windows System
Test Your Thinking
6 Emergency Recovery
Getting Back to the Command Prompt
Which Command Are You Running?
Interrupt a Runaway Program
Clearing Your Display
Setting Your Control Characters
Restoring a File
Test Your Thinking
7 Finding Files
Searching Files by Content
Searching Files by Attribute
Test Your Thinking
8 Regular Expressions
Basic Regular Expressions
Extended Regular Expressions
Test Your Thinking
9 The vi Editor
Starting and Quitting vi
Inserting Text
Moving the Cursor
Deleting Text
Saving a File
Searching Text
Searching and Replacing
Current Line
Moving Text
Test Your Thinking
10 Working with Text Files
Counting Words
Checking Spelling
Formatting Files
Test Your Thinking
11 Printing Text Files
Printing a File
Formatting Text Files for Printing
Managing Print Jobs
Test Your Thinking
12 Commands and Job Control
Multiple Commands on a Line
Setting Environment Variables
Foreground and Background
Scheduling Jobs
Test Your Thinking
13 X Window System
X Window Basics
Common X Programs
Customizing Your X Window System
Test Your Thinking
Appendix A Answers to Self-Review Questions
Appendix B Commands

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