Linux in a Nutshell, 4th Edition
A Desktop Quick Reference
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: June 2003
Pages: 944

Linux in a Nutshell, now in its fourth edition, has won awards in the Linux community as the most indispensable book about Linux. It is an essential desktop reference for the commands that users of Linux utilize every day, with the depth of information and the practical, succinct "In a Nutshell" format that made the previous editions so popular.Comprehensive but concise, Linux in a Nutshell covers all substantial user, programming, administration, and networking commands for the most common Linux distributions. It's several quick references rolled into one: sed, gawk, RCS, CVS, vi, Emacs, bash, tcsh, regular expressions, package management, bootloaders, and desktop environments are all covered in this clear, to-the-point volume, along with core command-line utilities.The fourth edition continues to track the major changes in bootloaders, the GNOME and KDE desktops, and general Unix commands. Several commands related to CDs and music reflect the evolution of multimedia on Linux. Coverage has been added for GRUB, which has become the default bootloader on several Linux distributions, and for vim, the popular and feature-loaded extension to vi. The addition of several new options to the iptables firewall command and new commands related to DNSSEC and ssh show the book's value as a security tool. With this book, you no longer have to grope through long manpages and info documents for the information you need; you'll find it here in clear language and an easy-to-read format.Contents include:

  • Programming, system administration, networking, and user commands with complete lists of options
  • GRUB, LILO, and Loadlin bootloaders
  • Shell syntax and variables for the bash, csh, and tcsh shells
  • Pattern matching
  • Emacs, vi, and vim editing commands
  • sed and gawk commands
  • The GNOME and KDE desktops and the fvwm2 window manager
  • Red Hat and Debian package managers
Table of Contents
Product Details
About the Author
Recommended for You
Customer Reviews


by PowerReviews
oreillyLinux in a Nutshell, 4th Edition

(based on 3 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars



  • 4 Stars



  • 3 Stars



  • 2 Stars



  • 1 Stars



Reviewed by 3 customers

Displaying reviews 1-3

Back to top


Review of Linux in a Nutshell, 4th Edition

By George Woolley of and

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Linux in a Nutshell, 4th Edition:

This is a very good O'Reilly Nutshell book.

If you are familiar with O'Reilly Nutshell books like "Unix in a Nutshell" and "Perl in a Nutshell",

that may be all you need to hear.

But perhaps you are not familiar with O'Reilly Nutshell books.

They are concise comprehensive practical references

on some technical topic.

They are, however, not tutorials.

O'Reilly has been publishing this series for a lot of years

and the Nutshell books are generally really good.

IMO this one sure is.

If you want more detail, you could take a look at my somewhat longer review.


Linux in a Nutshell, 4th Edition Review

By mmmna

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Linux in a Nutshell, 4th Edition:

Reviewer: mmmna


The Book:Linux in a Nutshell

By Ellen Siever, Stephen Figgins, Aaron Weber.

944 pages

4th Edition June 2003

ISBN: 0-596-00482-6

Book Link:

You can find this book and others on O'Reillys book catalog page.

For a sample chapter, click here for chapter 5, "Red Hat and Debian Package Managers"

After reviewing the 3rd edition of nutshell in a Borders store, I decided that book had to come home with me. I'm presently reviewing the 4th edition, so right there, you know I found additional useful information in this 4th edition of the book. Although some experienced Linux users may feel that the majority of the book covers familiar territory by being essentially nothing more than glorified 'man pages', I felt this was the strong point of the book, giving depth to those 'not quite informative' man pages. Certainly, some man pages are written well enough that they are the equal of the Nutshell explanation...

This Nutshell book is far more than that.

The organization of the book is that the commands are grouped according to tasks, something that a man page is unable to fully replicate. Are you setting up a network? The book groups those tasks together, in one section. Other tasks are similarly grouped together. Want to know more about boot loaders? LILO, Grub, and loadlin are all covered, and grouped together. Emacs, vi, sed - each have their own chapters. Gnome, KDE and fvwm2 each have a chapter.

But I have to wonder why include reference to fvwm2? I have not used it since 2 years ago, and then used it only for the novelty of looking at it, nothing more. fvwm2 does not hold my interest, nor does fvwm2 ever get discussed in any of 4 user oriented Linux forums which I visit frequently.

Thus, on the down side, I was dismayed to see fvwm2 covered in both volume 3, and the coverage enhanced for volume 4.

The space consumed by fvwm2 might be better consumed by a brief overview of DEVFS, or possibly Apache. Still, the book has earned a place in my collection, despite the fvwm2 coverage. Evidently someone must use fvwm2! Ultimately, I feel that the omission of DEVFS takes precedence over the inclusion of fvwm2, hands down, based on the length of discussions I've seen in forums. Certainly there is merit in discussing DEVFS, at least in some nominal overview. To me, the amount of usefulness for a DEVFS section replacing fvwm2 would be tremendous. Ultimately, though since there are rumblings about replacing DEVFS in the near future, the authors might have made a strategic decision to not change the current format to add any new sections. All in all, though, my dislike is based on only ONE chapter, so there is no need to penalize the book without balancing all the good which the book offers elsewhere.

What can this book do? Did you want to get an overview of the command options for CVS? That's in this book. Having trouble with pattern matching in shell scripts? Then you should open to the section titled 'Pattern Matching'. There you will see how the syntax evolves for various shells, scripts, and commands. What does the -l option do for the mount command? Page 306 describes it as follows:

4th Edition"

When reporting on mounted filesystems, show filesystem labels for filesystems that have them."

Have you ever wondered what a forum post was trying to say, but the post was not composed correctly and you can't tell if a space is missing somewhere? The book can help you see some common examples which are properly composed. Are you surprised at an example in a forum, because you didn't know there was such an optional argument to the command? Check the book for 2 reasons: the command options are listed, and the book may explain it better than any example in a forum.

The uses for the book are many: Linux newbie gets printed materials which are bound and complete (I never found the printed man pages from my 'Intro to Unix' class... I put them in a folder somewhere). The experienced sysadmin that can't seem to remember why sudo is not working for a user can get an overview of the command. The inexperienced sysadmin that has to run a system in an unfamiliar shell could use this book.

Ultimately, this book covers little things, in detail, that you might not be able to get from a man page or from the info pages, or even from a friend.

I give it 4 mmmna biggrins out of 5 maximum:


Linux in a Nutshell, 4th Edition Review

By Wes in Georgia

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Linux in a Nutshell, 4th Edition:

I've used Linux for a few years now, however I've never been one to venture into the CLI very much. Knowing the power of root and the risks involved I've played it safe. All the while I've envied those who could rattle out a command that would give you the information you need based on pipes and switches. This book has opened up a new can of worms for me.

I really like the fact that it has the commands broken down with the options that is truly the best part for me.

My copy is actually the 3rd edition but I'm sure the 4th is just as well written as my version.

Displaying reviews 1-3

Back to top

Buy 2 Get 1 Free Free Shipping Guarantee
Buying Options
Immediate Access - Go Digital what's this?