X User Tools
Authors: Linda Mui & Valerie Quercia
Publisher: O'Reilly & Associates
ISBN: 0-56592-019-8. 812 pages, CD-ROM, index
Reviewer: Danny Yee
X User Tools is more than just a guide to various X programs. It begins with a fairly general introduction that assumes no prior knowledge of X and finishes with almost a hundred pages on X system administration, including an introduction to Tcl and Tk. The approach is unstructured - most chapters or chapter sections could stand by themselves and coherence is provided by plentiful cross-references rather than by linear progression - and chatty rather than formal. The programs covered include: desktop accessories (clocks, calendars, screen savers); network applications (mailers, xarchie, xftp, Web browsers); editors; games; xterm; window managers (twm, olwm, fvwm and mwm); resources and fonts; graphics tools; system administration utilities and lots more. (I'd call most of these applications rather than tools, but that's quibbling.) The included CD-ROM contains binaries (Alpha OSF/1, HP7000, HP/UX, Sun3, Sun4, Solaris, RS6000 and DECstation Ultrix) and sources for all the tools discussed which aren't in standard distributions (and some which are). Well over one hundred different programs are included.
Yes, these programs can all be ftp-ed, installed and run without this book, but browsing X User Tools is a more pleasant way of finding new programs than long ftp sessions, and it's a lot more fun to read than manual pages. While the serious X system administrator will want a book devoted solely to administration, and the complete novice to X with no Unix background may find X User Tools a bit overwhelming, almost anyone who uses X should find something of value in this volume. The people likely to appreciate it most are those running X under Linux or FreeBSD at home, who must do basic system administration jobs themselves and who may not have ftp access, making the CD-ROM invaluable.