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15 Best Linux/UNIX Books For Beginners

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Linux has a variety of operating systems with different features and functionalities. You can use Linux Distros on various hardware manufactured by IBM, Intel, HP, SPARC, etc. Whether you are a developer or a video editor, Linux has so much to offer everyone. In Linux, you can do out-of-the-box tasks or even create something new with your skills. Hence, it is best to learn Linux, but starting on the right track as a beginner is essential. 


So here is the list of the 15 Best Linux and UNIX books for Beginners. These books will surely help you get a deeper knowledge and improve your skills.

List of 15 Best Linux Books

1. The Linux Programming Interface: A Linux and UNIX System Programming

The Linux Programming Interface offers in-depth information about the system and library functionalities. Although published in 2010, this book is still relevant today because of its comprehensive knowledge. That’s why many Linux geeks prefer this book for beginners. 

Michael Kerrisk is the author of this book and is also one of the core maintainers of the Linux main page project. This book includes over two hundred example programs, multiple diagrams, and tables to explain the concepts. Moreover, this book briefs about Linux-specific features, /proc filesystem, e-poll, etc. Hence, you will learn to execute the programs, write files, create shared libraries, and many more. 

2. How Linux Works: What Every Superuser Should Know

How Linux Works is a conceptual book that explains brief information about Linux internals. Linux is an open-source OS or Kernel, offering complete user control. However, the first step in learning something is understanding how it works. Therefore, Brian Ward (author of the book) created this book for those often curious about how operating systems work. With this book, you can learn Linux boot, Kernel working, development tool working, etc. 

This book also explains how Linux firewalls, interfaces, and networks work. Brian Ward also addresses containers, logical volume managers, virtualization, etc. This book is best for beginners because it combines real-world examples with the theory and methods to solve technical problems. 

3. Linux Pocket Guide: Essential Commands

The Linux Pocket Guide has everything you need to perform your daily task on Linux. Daniel J. Barrett is an author, and this book is ideal for programmers for organized learning. The 3rd edition also includes new commands to process images and audio, kill a program, read and change system clipboards, change PDFs, etc.

With this book, you can learn to install software, understand superuser privileges, shell script programming, and create and edit files. You will also learn about some essential command-line idioms, including piping into bash and process substitution. This book is best for learning commands and is suitable for beginners.

4. The Linux Command Line: A Complete Introduction

The Linux Command Line book gives brief information about the command line and its concept. William Shotts (Author of the book) has included everything from the first terminal keystroke to writing any program through the command line or Linux shell. We all know that commands have a significant role in Linux which means it is essential to learn commands and their usage. 

With this book, you can learn about environment configuration, command chaining, creating and modifying files/directories, writing shell scripting, package installation, file navigation, and many more. This book also includes practical examples and basic concepts. You can learn everything required to be a good programmer and work fluently on the Linux command line. This book can be your workbook and a good reference book for proficiency in Linux commands. 

5. Linux Bible

Linux Bible is for those who have already gone through the above books and want a reference book for Linux-related troubleshooting solutions. In this book, you can learn the brief on Linux with its basic concepts, operations, and advanced tasks. Christopher Negus (Author) and Christine Bresnahan (contributor) bring the best information with complete tutorials and hands-on exercises. 

This book covers RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), Ubuntu, Fedora with cloud computing, cloud forms, etc. You will also learn to navigate Linux with Azure, AWS, and GCE. The Linux Bible is the best book if you want to know more about command-line tools and how to use them with different Linux distributions. Hence, this book works well for every programmer. 

6. Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment

The Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment book is one of the best reference books for Linux enthusiasts. This book covers useful information for both beginners and advanced users. Sir Richard W. Stevens (Author) has included every detail covering processes, directories info, and 70 different interfaces such as spinlocks, POSIX asynchronous I/O, POSIX semaphores, barriers, etc. 

This book also provides case studies (chapter-length) with tons of illustrations and graphics explaining various UNIX concepts. Hence, this book is a must-read UNIX book by which you can learn UNIX better. This book has different editions, which you can read to get in-depth information about UNIX.

7. Unix and Linux System Administration Handbook

UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook targets the beginner and intermediate as this book is a definitive guide for Linux programmers. This book is different from others because it emphasizes practical knowledge. With this book, you will get to know about administration tasks, email, performance analysis, network, windows interoperability, web hosting, software configuration management, DNS, and many more. Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Dan Mackin, Ben Whaley, and Trent Hein are the authors of this book.
This book also covers a complete overview of essential administrative concepts in Linux and UNIX. Many programmers consider it a must-have-read book for all system administrators because it contains important concepts and examples. 

8. Linux for Beginners: An Introduction to the Linux Operating System and Command Line

Linux for Beginners is a suitable book for those who don’t have any prior knowledge about Linux. Jason Cannon wrote the book, and he guided well through the easy, systematic, and logical approach. If you want to learn Linux from the beginning, it is good to read this book thoroughly. 

This book covers the details about different Linux distribution explanations, basic concepts of remote login technologies, basic Linux commands, directory manipulations, basics of nano, Permissions, etc. Therefore, you will get complete knowledge about Linux from scratch, and then you can also walk through examples and pesky problems to become an expert. 

9. Art of UNIX Programming

The Art of UNIX Programming gives in-depth information about UNIX philosophy and its concepts. Eric S. Raymond (author of this book) includes UNIX history, best practices, OS comparisons, and examples. With this book, you can understand how the open-source development community evolved over the last thirty years. 

This book also covers the twelve case studies that will help you learn the uses of Linux in real-life applications. This book is highly recommended if you want to get knowledge about UNIX, including its history, evolution, and current uses. This book also offers a unique opportunity for the new generation of hackers to understand UNIX principles.

10. Linux: The Complete Reference

The Linux: The Complete Reference book provides in-depth information about Linux and its features. This book covers Linux tools, utilities, and features with comprehensive resources. You can also learn about the shell, deploy servers, handle applications, and network administrative concepts. This book also includes details about the multiple Linux Distros such as RHEL and Ubuntu with the software installation details.

This can be a great reference book if you want to learn security features, encryption, installation, and configuration of Linux OS, explanation of desktop environments, details about deploying FTP, database servers, web, proxy, mail, directory manipulation, managing multiple applications, etc. 

11. Linux: The Complete Reference, Sixth Edition

Written by Richard Petersen is one of the best books for beginners as it provides complete coverage of all aspects of Linux distributions ranging from, deployment of servers, understanding security, desktops, management of applications, shells, and a good grounding of basic network administration. 

Linux: The Complete Reference, Sixth Edition is an ultimate guide and gives the chance to learn Linux distribution by installing and configuring them, and security learning (SELinux, Netfilter, SSH, and Kerberos). The book also helps in acquiring some particular skills in deploying FTP, Web, mail, proxy, print, news, database servers, and many more.

12. Linux Kernel Development

Linux Kernel Development, written by Robert Love is new in kernel-level programming and focuses on the mistakes made by developers. For a Linux developer, one of the most basic things is to understand the kernel as it forms the base of some very important things. This book is good for beginners and covers numerous topics such as:

  • Explanation of kernel with the help of practical and theoretical examples
  • Proper and details explanation of the design, implementation, and interface of the kernel
  • Coverage of important topics such as virtual memory, kernel data structure, industry level standards for working with kernel patches.

13. Advanced Unix Programming

Beginners can definitely go for this book as it provides updated knowledge to the developers. Written by Mark J. Rochkind, Advanced Unix Programming can be used as both workbook or a reference book. It also explains the history of Linux and people who are new to this can go through the same for gaining proper knowledge. Chapters covered in this book are signals, sockets, thread, etc. in detail. Hence, this is considered a must-have book for any UNIX programmer.

14. Beginning Linux Programming

This book is preferred among Linux programmers due to its very unique approach to teaching UNIX programming which is simple and structured. Written by Richard Stones and Neil Mathew this book is perfect for students who want to become perfect in Unix programming as it contains several important topics, such as:

  • Proper explanation of C libraries 
  • Development of a graphical interface
  • Understanding of IP/TCP networks

Students who read this book can become good UNIX programmers and are able to write programs that work well on different versions of Linux.

15. Command Line Kung Fu

Written by Jason Cannon, Command Line Kung Fu is the book that will help you to become a Linux Ninja. Yes, the book has dozens of tips and more than 100 practical examples to solve actual problems. There are many benefits of reading this book such as quick and easy repetition of commands, shortcuts for getting specific words from shell history, ways to extract specific text blocks from files, ways of editing files over networks, how to create and use SSH tunnels, shell scripting tips, etc. 


This was the thorough details on the 10 best Linux and UNIX books you can read as a beginner to clear every concept and become a Linux expert. Experienced Linux users recommend all the above books, and it will be beneficial if you read them to understand everything about Linux and UNIX having no issues. It is best to learn about basic Linux commands and shell scripting to be a good Linux programmer.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the best way to learn Linux?

However, there are many ways to learn Linux but the best one is to “Hit and Trial with your own Linux Server”. You can try different things with your PC in your safe environment as it will help you to explore many things properly without being too concerned. 

2.  What are the best books to learn Linux?

These are the best books for learning Linux:

  • How Linux Works: What Every Superuser Should Know
  • Linux Bible
  • Unix and Linux System Administration Handbook
  • Art of UNIX Programming
  • Advanced Unix Programming

3. Where do I start to learn Linux?

If you want to learn Linux then the first thing you need to do is enhance your professional skills, then install the operating system you want. Once it is done you can take tutorials and do everything step by step. 

4. What should I learn first in Linux?

The beginners must start to learn these things:

  • reverse-i-search
  • Watching, Tailing, and Following
  • File permissions and ownership
  • Navigating the file system
  • Checking and monitoring system resource usage

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Last Updated : 01 May, 2023
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