Media praise for UNIX for FORTRAN Programmers

"This book is a very readable introduction to Unix and how to run Fortran programs under it. It does not set out to be (and is not) an exhaustive description of Unix but it does refer to other books or manuals that provide more details. If you are new to Unix, this book is for you. Chapter 1 gives a succinct outline of Unix in 36 pages or so; it will be a while before you need more than is written there. Chapter 2 is a ten-page resume of the vi editor, evidently the favourite of Unix gurus, despite coming from the stone age (just a personal opinion {:]).

"Then chapter 3 gets down to what we Fortran people want to know: how to compile and link a source text. In my case, I like to work with object libraries, and how to do it is right there, and not in so much detail that I feel pressured - this is general for this book. Twenty-five pages, and I am in business. No doubt chapter 4, on the Fortran Working Environment, is useful to some - I skipped it mostly, as it tells me things I already know about I/O or will soon find out (e.g. default file names) or stuff that I wouldn't use, not being standard Fortran. I did check out Timing, which of course is system dependent and I will need to change the contents of, e.g., my subroutines that measure cpu time from one point in time to another. Chapter 5 is on debugging, and is again admirably concise. If it all works as described there, I anticipate using dbx quite a lot; a nice tool.

"Everybody tells me I should be using make files. I am not yet convinced about this but chapter 6 describes this briefly (I know there is a whole book about these). Chapter 7 is about Source Management with RCS, which is for large programming projects; I skipped that. Finally, chapter 8 has more detail about timing and profiling, which does not concern me so much because there are not many users on my machine, but it's there for those who are in a more pressured environment.

"There are several appendices, on Unix compatibility issues, Fortran/C mixing, data representation and Unix error reports.

"If I have to carp, the index is a bit weak. For example, I looked for object libraries and found a reference to page 52, which has a trivial mention of the word "library". These are dealt with - very well - on page 72 and it was not hard to find because of the book's logical structure. Having said that the book is short and concise and therefore easy to read, I can't really complain about the lack of more Unix commands. Most people, however, will find others around them who can tell them about more commands not in the book. I picked up, from a casual aside, the very useful link command ln. No doubt I'll pick up more the next year or so, and I wouldn't want this book to be bloated by lists and lists of these commands. Possibly emacs should have been described instead of, or as well as, vi. Also, the book repeatedly refers to the Unix Programmer's Reference Manual, and it might have been better if it said at the start, that the man files are meant. I went off to the bookshop to buy this evidently useful (and nonexistent) book.

"Altogether, a nice little book, which others in my dept. are borrowing - for short periods only; I don't let it out of my office for long." --Dieter Britz, Kemisk Institut, Aarhus Universitet, Denmark