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Python for Unix and Linux System Administration Paperback – Sep 1 2008


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 16 reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Title should be "Learning Python..." Oct. 21 2008
By Richard T. Harding - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As a sysadmin and avid Python user I was looking forward to all the cool tricks/hacks I'd pick up from this book. Once I got it, I was a bit disappointed. The title should be "Learning Python for System Admins". It's very much an into to Python itself, and not anything close to a "cookbook" I was expecting. It covers a ton of topics, but all without much depth. It might be useful to some, but definitely not what I was looking for.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A good book with some typos March 12 2009
By Eric Lake - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I recently got my hands on a copy of "Python for Unix and Linux System Administration". After reading it, I felt the time I've invested in reading it was well spent. The author introduced the reader to many different situations where python would help make their lives as system administrators easier, without confusing the reader with some complex forms or statements. My feeling is that this book is aimed at people who want to use Python to solve their problems quickly and efficiently, but only have a limited experience with the language - and the books fits that purpose well with its rather superficial approach that the reader can later extend later on with various available resources. It would only be fair that I too mention some of the shortcomings that I noticed while reading this book.

Pros:
1) The author introduces the reader to ways that Python can be used.
2) Most of the time there will be more than one way to accomplish a task. The author at times presents a scenario and showed the reader how to do the same task with different modules. This places the choice of which to use back where it belongs, with the reader.
3) The book has a website (most do these days) where the code examples can be downloaded. [...]

Cons:
1) More time was spent on iPython than was really needed.
2) The case of a word is important in Python. For instance "import Sys" and "import sys" are two completely different things. There were quite a few occasions where a module name was used as the first word in the sentence and because of that it was capitalized.
3) There was once instance that I saw where a script example had no indentation at all. Trying to run it would have resulted in complete failure.
4) It would have been nice if the script examples were named instead of leaving it to the reader to figure it out based on the imports used in another example.

When all is said and done I think I would recommend the book to others if I knew that they had at least some background with Python. And I would highly recommend that they check the addendum and errata pages.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Could be better, but still useful Dec 18 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Flicking through the table of contents, there seems to be a lot of promise in Python for Unix and Linux System Administration. The book seems targeted specifically for Unix admins, touching on actual problems and providing actual solutions. On the face of it, it looks to be Programming Python with an OS-specific slant.

Unfortunately, the execution here just doesn't seem to be on a par with that of other O'Reilly books. There is useful information to be had in this text, to be sure, but it's at times difficult to extract.

Perhaps my view of this book is tainted by my recent experience with The Ruby Programming Language, one of the most enjoyable technical reference books I've ever encountered. I'll spare you the details (I have a full review on that product page), but rarely have I felt such joy in reading about code.

I do not feel such joy when slogging through Python for Unix and Linux System Administration. I get the impression, at times, that the author should have simply let the code speak for itself, and spared us his narration entirely.

For example, here is a snippet from Chapter 3, on text manipulation:

"The final file method that we will discuss for getting text out of a file is readlines(). Readlines() is not a typo, nor is it a cut-and-paste error from the previous example. Readlines() reads in all of the lines of a file. Well, that is almost true."

This text feels horribly labored to me. He's telling us what readlines() is not, and it takes him a while to tell us what it actually is. Also, note that Readlines() (with the capital "R") is not valid; despite its use in the beginning of a sentence, the author should always use the proper capitalization of the method to avoid confusion. Nitpick, perhaps, but this could catch somebody off guard.

Contrast this with the pydoc description of readlines():

"Call readline() repeatedly and return a list of the lines so read. The optional size argument, if given, is an approximate bound on the total number of bytes in the lines returned."

Clear, concise, and much more legible. When I want to know about readlines(), I want to know what it does and what it is, not what it *doesn't* do and *almost* is.

This is just an example. There are others, but I think you get the idea: it's not a book you'll want to curl up with in front of the fire for a pleasant read. Instead, this is a book that does have useful information in it, but you'll have to force yourself to dig it out.

The book does provide some useful examples for addressing specific problems, and if you have such a problem this might be exactly what you need. Do not mistake this for a cookbook, though; it's a lengthy tutorial with real world examples, not a tome of useful hacks that you will be constantly calling upon.

In short: a workable introduction to a variety of useful techniques, though lacking a bit in quality compared to other O'Reilly books. Unless you're really interested in some of the OS-specific topics covered in this book, the more general (and much more comprehensive) Programming Python will probably serve you better.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Got me hooked on Python March 23 2009
By skippylou - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I felt this was a much better book for me than two other Oreilly titles for picking up Python. That being said, I do believe having a background in another language (Perl/Bash/etc.) and being a Linux/*nix admin is required to get the most from it.

It gave great examples that made practical sense and covered a ton of topics.

My only knocks would be I wish the iPython chapter was not included and the final chapter "Pragmatic Examples" was extended.

If you have never used Perl, or another language, the intro section may not be enough to get you to follow along - that being said, most admins I'm sure have already been exposed to a language of some sort.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Covers right topics, writing could be better Sept. 23 2008
By Timothy Bower - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a sys-admin who has used Python, I couldn't wait for this text to come out. It certainly fills a need and contains useful insights on how to get the job done faster.

The writing could be better though. The conversational writing style causes the book to take a while to say simple things. It also rambles a bit. I've noticed a couple times that it introduces a topic, goes off on one or two tangents and then gets back to the original topic. I've also noticed more than a few grammar and spelling errors.

Because of the value of the material covered, it is still well worth reading.


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