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Re: Beginning Perl for system admins

by VSarkiss (Monsignor)
on Sep 19, 2002 at 21:25 UTC ( #199308=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Beginning Perl for system admins

First, get a better programming resource. Two very good books to learn Perl are Learning Perl and Programming Perl, both by O'Reilly. The latter is oriented towards those who already have a programming background, so it may not be a good one for you. I don't know the book you mention, but the "in 21 days" part makes me suspicious whether it's any good. Look in the Reviews section here in the monastery for some good reviews of existing Perl books.

Second, this "Perl scripting tool" doesn't sound like a full Perl implementation. For a Windows platform, I use ActiveState's Perl implementation. There are others, including IndigoPerl from IndigoStar, but I've never used it, so I can't vouch for it.

Some of your other questions:

  • Yes, most Perl programs will run on any platform, but some functions don't work the same everywhere. ActiveState's documentation has a list of "this works, this doesn't" on Win32.
  • The monastery is an excellent resource (IMHO ;-) for those learning Perl. Whether a book, the docs themselves, a course, or an online tutorial will work better depends entirely on you. There are Perl books specifically for system admins, but I think those are more oriented towards Unix/Linux admins, like Perl for system adminstration, which is multi-platform. You can find some very good resources on Perl for Win32 admin at
  • I have no idea what the orphaned home directory script is, so I can't say anything there.

Anyways, Welcome to the monastery! Make yourself at home. Read the FAQs and don't be embarassed to ask questions. (Oh yeah, read the Writeup Formatting Tips. ;-)

Added links to books.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Re: Beginning Perl for system admins
by bronto (Priest) on Sep 20, 2002 at 08:18 UTC

    I'd add a link and a comment to those great links: Learning Perl for Win32 seems to be something you are looking for, too.

    Moreover, I completely agree with VSarkiss about Perl for System Administration. I bought the book an year ago or so, and thats absolutely a must-have for "coder-sysadmins", as you call them. Each and every problem is treated on the three most popular macroplatforms: UNIX, Windows and MacOS. It was worth the money I paid for it!


    PS: I forgot: I am a coder sysadmin :-)

    # Another Perl edition of a song:
    # The End, by The Beatles
    END {
      $you->take($love) eq $you->make($love) ;

Re: Re: Beginning Perl for system admins
by QwertyD (Pilgrim) on Sep 19, 2002 at 22:44 UTC

    If the book is Teach Yourself Perl in 21 Days by Laura Lemay, it's a perfectly good way to learn perl. The 21 days part is decieving: you could only devour the book and do all its exercises in 21 days if you did nothing else except sleep and eat. Even then, you wouldn't get enough practice with all the things you learned.

    I got through the first few chapters in a few weeks, and then referred back to the book when I wanted a tutorial on, say, regexes, or the debugger. That, the manpages, and Perlmonks were all I needed to get a pretty solid foundation of the language.

    If it is this book, then it has a fairly extensive chapter and apendicies about how to obtain and set up Perl on Unix, Windows, and MacOS. The only thing that makes me suspicious is that jjohnson says "I have downloaded \"Learn Perl in 21 Days\"". This either means that I'm thinking of the wrong book, or that jjohnson just downloaded the code listings from the book's site and didn't read the book. That's usually not a good way to learn Perl.

    Tell us when you get it working, jjohnson.

    How do I love -d? Let me count the ways...

      He's quite possibly talking about the Lemay book, as I've seen it available as (scanned+ocred+formatted) on irc several times.

      I bought it, and it is good, though I didn't spend more than the allotted time (as perl is my 3rd/4th language, I could jump the first few days quite quickly) It's not a replacement for the camel (which I have acquired later on), as it does not delve into OO or the other more advanced stuff very much. It's well-written, though, and clearly understandable.

      Anyway, I meant to say, don't download the book, buy it, it's worth the money.

Re: Re: Beginning Perl for system admins
by Dog and Pony (Priest) on Sep 20, 2002 at 19:35 UTC
    but the "in 21 days" part makes me suspicious whether it's any good
    If it is the book I think it is, from SAMS, you are absolutely right in your suspicions. That book is maybe my worst buy ever.

    As a book to get an overview of the language as such it is maybe ok, as it covers most of the basics, but as I feel, in a semi-random order and skipping lots of important parts. The really bad part is however, that once you've finished with it, it is of no use any more, as it virtually impossible to use it as a reference - because it lacks an understandable structure and has no good index.

    This is pretty harsh claims, so I wish I could back it up with examples, but I gave that book away to someone at work.

    I bought it as my first perl book, and in all honesty, I learnt more from Perl 5 pocket reference. Then I bought the Camel and all was sunshine again.

    I don't know if this should be a disclaimer or another argument against the book, but before Perl I had been programming other languages and worked as a developer for some time. That may affect what works or not I guess.

    This is only how I experienced it, I am sure the book has been very succesful in helping others. For me, I'll never buy one of those "Teach yourself in X Something" again, and never anything from SAMS.

    You have moved into a dark place.
    It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
      You had me there until the last paragraph.

      Some SAMS books are bad. In fact, prior to 1999 I'd say *most* of SAMS books were bad. A lot of it has to do with the editorial process of which I've got firshand knowledge. So trust me there. Things have improved though.

      The same could be said of any publisher. ORA and Manning both have some real stinkers on the shelf right now at my local bookstore.

      My own "Teach Yourself X in Y" book has gotten very *good* reviews from both a readability and technical standpoint. It doesn't teach any bad habits that I've ever been told of, was widely tech reviewed in an open process by dozens in the Perl Community, has a friendly style to newbies, and as a result sells like gangbusters everywhere.

      I'd send you one to review, except your attitude's a little hostile and negative right now and I don't know if it'd do any good.


      On a related note, I've always held there's two kinds of tech books: ones you learn a subject with, and ones you use for reference. There are very few books that fit both categories well. The Llama is a *terrible* reference book, it's organized all wrong for that and it's not supposed to be a reference. But it's pretty good to learn from! The Camel is an *awful* introductory text to Perl. It far too steep and organized around the parts of the language and not tasks to be done with it. It's a great reference and map to the language.

      Of course, by "learn a subject" I mean starting fairly low on the curve. If you're already an adept C, Lisp, Java, Shell, Pascal, Smalltalk, and C++ programmer and you're learning Perl for the first time you'd probably be happy with a reference and a few examples. If your programming experience is limited to BASIC and some Pascal you took in college then you're a different creature entirely.

      Are there any books that do well at both? Possibly. K&R does a nice job, before it got too footnote-heavy in the second edition. But C's a microscopic subject compared to Perl. Steven's first edition of the Network Programming book got it right and does both well. His Unix book though was kind of steep for learning a new system, but great if you already new a bit of this and a little of that.

      I borrow a learning book, spend some time with it, and then permanently loan it out again. I then go out and buy a reference book and keep it forever.

        You had me there until the last paragraph.
        Does that mean I shouldn't have written that one? ;-)

        On a more serious note, I don't for a second doubt what you say. Anyone can get better, I just haven't seen it first hand. It may sound as if I am judging from just one book, but that is not so - it is the only book I've ever bought myself like that, but I've repeatedly encountered those books at jobs. Ranging from ASP to XML, and all of them were equally bad from what I tried to learn from them. While I've only had good experiences with ORA books (and never read a Manning one).

        That said, it is very possible many of those books were a bit on the old side and thus fit in to your category of pre 1999.

        I suppose that it is also very possible that the form these books try to teach in does not fit me well, or at all. I think that is very true. I still stand by my "review" of the book in question, although I should really get my copy back and reread it to be fair to it. Of course I hold a grudge against it. :)

        However, even if SAMS has gotten better, even much better, they have repeatedly ruined their chances with me unless I get a good reason to think otherwise. Which in itself is a catch 22. But then again, as you point out, I am maybe not in their immideate target audience either.

        I have no reason to doubt that your book is excellent (I do not know which book it is), especially if it has gotten the positive attention you mention. Let's just say I am a gambling man, and my experience with SAMS as the dealer has taught me it is better to bet someplace else, even though now the rules may have changed. Just as I've "learnt" that ORA is usually a good bet. Is how one makes choices, based upon experience (and recommendations).

        I do agree that there are two different kinds of books. I guess I was disappointed that said book was neither, again IMO.

        I will now save this and go ++ your node, as it puts a good perspective to mine. :) I *still* think the same about SAMS books in general, but I will now promise to at least look at them before not buying them. *grin*

        A sidenote: As for reviewing your book, if it is Perl related, maybe I'll contact you a bit later. I am trying to breathe some life into my local PerlMongers group (in Gothenburg) that has apparently been sleeping for ages (same for the whole country, in fact), and if I succeed we could use some bookreviews and such. I'll even give it to someone else for the review if you like. :)

        Thank you.

        You have moved into a dark place.
        It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
        That's no fair. Their's nothing on your homepage to link you to anything. Don't be shy. Now you made me have to work and go and search google for clint Perl and 21 days in order to find it. Seems to be rather well liked, too.

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