I am looking for a book about the Unix command-line toolkit (sh, grep, sed, awk, cut, etc.) that I read some time ago. It was an excellent book, but I totally forgot its name. The great thing about this specific book was the running example. It showed how to implement a university bookkeeping system using only text-processing tools. You would find a student by name with grep, update grades with sed, calculate average grades with awk, attach grades to IDs with cut, and so on. If my memory serve, this book had a black cover, and was published circa 1980.

Does anyone remember this book? I would appreciate any help in finding it.

  • 5
    This book sounds fabulous. I sure hope somebody finds it.
    – Steven D
    Commented Jan 12, 2011 at 23:02
  • Have you tried searching for unix books with black color on images.google.com or books.google.com with a defined time range?
    – wag
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 16:46
  • I've been searching for unix books with black covers from 1975-1985, but it is hard to figure out whether the example he mentions is in the book.
    – Steven D
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 17:57
  • Was this a hardcover book, softcover, or did it have special binding from a University print shop (Ring binder, etc.)? I work at a computer research facility in Berkeley, and my coworkers have many old Unix books on display. Some of the more common books were printed on cheap binding at the local University print shop. Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 19:35
  • @Stefan: If my memory serves, it was a standard black softcover, not university press. Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 9:06

3 Answers 3


Using UNIX by Example, P.C Poole & N. Poole ?


and on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Using-Unix-Example-P-Poole/dp/0201185350

  • Added amazon link so you can see that it has a black cover ;-)
    – Rob Cowell
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 11:29
  • Quite fancy this book myself, it uses the popular dungeon-exploration game "rogue" in its examples :-D
    – Rob Cowell
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 11:39
  • @Rob: The examples look surprisingly familiar, but I can't read the Google eBook from outside of the US :( Is there some sample content somewhere? Looks promising, though. Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 12:08
  • I'm outside the US too and can only see snippets when searching by keywords. I suspect the full book isn't on Google books.No ebooks or PDFs around that I can find, but you should be able to pick up a secondhand dead tree version from that Amazon link I posted.
    – Rob Cowell
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 12:58
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    So, I can't find an online version of the book, but I did find a site that allows you to search the content and return page numbers. (hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015034661036). It would seem from that link, that there is an example with students and grades around page 242.
    – Steven D
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 16:50

It sounds vaguely like "UNIX Shell Programming" by Stephen Kochan and Patrick Wood.

The book uses creating a phonebook or rolodex to illustrate the use of various commands in building shell scripts.

The original edition came out in...uhm...1990? Cover was a dark purple, darker than the one pictured in the amazon link below.



Black cover? You sure you don't mean the Unix and Linux System Administrators Handbook? Its pretty much the Unix bible. Not sure if it has that example you are speaking of though. Its been a long time since I opened that book.

Edit: Just a note, the cover has changed slightly over the years. It used to be purple if I remember right.

  • i agree with loeser thats the only book even i could find
    – John
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 20:47
  • As in admin.com . The first edition was in 1988 (?) though. Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 22:57
  • It was not a handbook, but a tutorial-style book, not aiming at administrators in particular. Commented Jan 18, 2011 at 10:11

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