Python for Unix and Linux System Administration Paperback – Sep 1 2008
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Efficient Problem Solving with Python
About the Author
Noah Gift is the co-author of Python For Unix and Linux by O'Reilly. He is an author, speaker, consultant, and community leader, writing for publications such as IBM Developerworks, Red Hat Magazine, O'Reilly, and MacTech, and Manning.
His consulting company is Giftcs, LLC and it provides solutions for Python Development and Systems Engineering. His personal website is www.noahgift.com. Noah is also the former organizer for PyAtl, which is the Python User Group for Atlanta, GA. He has given presentations at PyCon and PyAtl.
He has a Master's degree in CIS from Cal State Los Angeles, B.S. in Nutritional Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, is an Apple ACSA and LPI certified SysAdmin, as well as a Avid Certified Support Representative. He has worked at companies such as, Caltech, Disney Feature Animation, Sony Imageworks, and Turner Studios, and Weta Digital. You can see all of his film credits at IMBD.
As a teenager he was a freelance television editor for ABC Network News. While at Caltech he worked for the Nobel Prize Winning President as a Mac Expert, and at Disney and Sony worked on the first feature animated films for both companies: Chicken Little, and Surf's Up, respectively. Recently he has worked on Python development projects as diverse as writing an SNMP auto-discovery system, writing a Content Management System from scratch, creating a large scale Web 2.0/Social Networking Application in Django for Turner Studios, to writing IPhone applications that talk to Google App Engine. He is also involved in a new media journalism project, Spotlight on FOSS, that had a kickoff interview of Mark Shuttleworth.
He is currently co-authoring a book on Google App Engine and writing a large Google App Engine Exercise and Nutrition Tracking Application. Most recently, he works as a Python programmer for Weta Digital in New Zealand, which has one of the world's largest render farms/super computer sites.
In his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife Leah, and their son Liam, and playing and composing piano music. He is also into exercising religiously, including running in and training for marathons, and blogging about it. When he gets a chance, he likes to write open source software. He is also interested in Artificial Intelligence research and software development.
Jeremy Jones is a software engineer/system administrator who works for Predictix. His weapon of choice is Python but he has done plenty of shell and Perl and a touch of Java.
He is the author of the open source projects Munkware, a multiproducer/multiconsumer, transactional, and persistent queuing mechanism, ediplex, an EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) parsing engine, and podgrabber a podcast downloader. All three projects were written in the Python language.
Jeremy spends his spare time enjoying his family and doing a little writing. He lives in Conyers, Georgia, just east of Atlanta, with his wife, Debra and his two children, Zane and Justus.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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. [...]
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.
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.
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.
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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