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I've just begun to use the Terminal in Mac OS X and I've found the man command very useful, although very often the explanations are too compact or complicated for me. I am looking for a very basic reference guide – like O'Reilly makes, for example. But in there I didn't find an entry for basic commands like ls or ln and a layman's explanation of all the flags and options.

Could anybody recommend me something?

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5 Answers 5

If a video tutorial is more your style, Dan Benjamin did a 2-part intro to the command line that is very well structured. Part 1 is here:

http://peepcode.com/products/meet-the-command-line

And part 2 (with Geoffrey Grosenbach) is here:

http://peepcode.com/products/advanced-command-line

There appear to be free previews of the screencasts here:

http://peepcode.com/system/uploads/2009/peepcode-034-cmdline-preview.mov

http://peepcode.com/system/uploads/2009/peepcode-037-advanced-cmd-preview.mov

Hope this is helpful!

(Note that I have no relationship with Peepcode or Dan Benjamin other than being admirers of this piece of work…)

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Bought those videos, and like them, but I don't remember being in-depth about flags of certain commands (i.e. what the user wants). –  Daniel Beck Jan 24 '11 at 6:11
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The Linux Documentation Project has very good (although slightly dated) documentation for many Linux/Unix tools. They have a bash beginner's guide, a bash programming guide and an advanced bash-scripting guide which should cover most aspects of bash.

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I don't know Mac OS at all, but for an intro to unix commands I like this link:

http://lnag.sourceforge.net/lnag_html/node5.html

Skip the first section for moving around linux

Regards,

Dave.

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Find an ancient book on Unix, preferably from the '80s or even late 70s, when Unix and the shell were brand new concepts. If you buy http://www.amazon.com/UNIX-Dummies-John-R-Levine/dp/0764541471/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_5 used, you'll pay more for shipping than for the actual item, which makes sense for something like this (and its author, John Levine, is well regarded in the Unix community).

Every command has grown more command-line options since these books were published, so at some point you'll need to turn to the man pages for more of an explanation. But then you'll reach a point where you can resell the book, and the man pages alone will be perfectly fine for you.

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This is the official manual, which is probably on your system and accessible using info bash.

The Official FAQ can be very useful.

The resources at Greg's Wiki are invaluable. Particularly:

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