Unix and Perl to the Rescue is a light-hearted, compelling book that introduces key programming concepts and Unix tasks, particularly relevant to the field of Bioinformatics. It assumes no previous knowledge of Unix or Perl and presents step-by-step basic processes as well as the philosophy of well experienced programmers, e.g. “The importance of saving key strokes”. This is not a trivial achievement, especially for the shy biologist who fears typing commands, afraid of breaking the machine, or for the experimentalist who meticulously follows protocols for the execution of tasks.
The book is presented in such a way that it can be read in specific chunks, and different sections may be skipped without losing the thread. The chapters are easily readable, only several pages long and containing humorous puns that make the book fun to read (i.e. ‘why it’s good to stray from the $PATH’). Every chapter contains also short code snippets followed by an explanatory section. Given that the scope for the book is mainly introductory, it is not surprising that later ‘advanced’ sections are the ones that I personally found most useful after having done bioinformatics for more than a decade (e.g. debugging strategies or code beautification).
I especially recommend this book for any bioinformatics student coming from a Biology background.