Book Review: Linux Phrasebook

March 20, 2012
“Help! I am new to Linux, and I want to learn the command line. Where should I start?”

The Linux Phrasebook by Scott Granneman is without a doubt the best hands-on book I have ever read that teaches practical command line usage, and I always recommend it to anyone new to the Linux command line. In fact, I would highly suggest reading this book before reading the Linux+ Guide to Linux Certification.

This small, pocket-sized paperback consists of sixteen easy-to-follow chapters covering a variety of topics that you will most likely encounter in everyday usage.

But exactly why is this book so helpful?

The Linux Phrasebook contains two important parts for the new Linux student. The first chapter briefly describes basic Linux concepts such as everything is a file, names are case-sensitive, use the forward slash to separate directories, and other basic Linux knowledge that makes life easy for the Linux newcomer.

After that, the remainder of the book provides hands-on real-life command line examples followed by descriptions in fun, informal, and easy-to-understand language. The commands are practical and they are what you will use most of the time, so there is little theory involved. Simply type the example, watch it run, and read how it works.

Chapters are short and grouped according to topic. Topics are diverse, up-to-date, and practical. Using ls, aliases, setting up ssh to log in without prompting for a password, using rsync for backups, grabbing web pages from the command line, managing processes, Samba, printing, and a multitude of other useful examples abound.

Even after reading through and following the examples, the Linux Phrasebook makes for an excellent pocket reference, and its small size is convenient enough to carry around or shelve near a computer.

This book serves as a good foundation upon which to expand one’s knowledge of Linux, and it offers some of the best, easy-to-grasp explanations of commands that I have ever read.


In short, this book is highly recommended. There is simply no better introduction to the Linux command line as succinct and useful as the Linux Phrasebook.

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  1. #1 by anthonyvenable110 on March 20, 2012 - 7:39 PM

    this is great

  2. #2 by rsgranne on May 1, 2012 - 4:49 AM

    Wow! Thank you for the great review! I’m excited to announce that a 2nd edition of this book is going to be coming out soon, with fixes, updates, & new stuff. I hope you’ll find it just as useful.

    • #3 by delightlylinux on May 1, 2012 - 1:01 PM

      Thanks for the update! If the second edition is anything like the first, then I look forward to digesting every page.

      Please post a comment or notify when the second edition is published. I checked, but there is no mention of an expected release rate.

  3. #4 by rsgranne on May 1, 2012 - 4:50 AM

    Wow—thanks for the great review! I’m glad you liked my book!

    • #5 by delightlylinux on May 1, 2012 - 12:57 PM

      A book as convenient and useful as this deserves the praise and the exposure. Back when I was studying Linux in computer classes, I shared your book with fellow students, and it helped them understand Linux better than the official curriculum because it demonstrated by short examples in everyday language instead of by lengthy theories.

      Having owned this book myself for a few years, I still keep it within arm’s reach and consult it for quick look-ups.

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