Since the book comes with Knoppix and the author's purpose is to introduce the Linux desktop immediately, the first few chapters of this book only briefly describe what Linux versions are available, how to get a copy and how to install your chosen distro. Gagne gives some example installation choices with Mandrake, Redhat and SuSE. The next two chapters deal with using and customizing the author's desktop environment of choice (KDE) and exploring with Konquerer.
Chapter 7 provides a "release-agnostic" approach to package installation with examples and screen shots from Kpackage, RPM installs via shell and building from source. Most readers will become quite familiar with Chapter 8: Working with Devices, despite the author's exclamation that "Device support under Linux is excellent. No, really." Printing looms large in this chapter and there's some good advice to be had here for the newbie. The next several chapters tackle getting connected to the Internet, email and using Konquerer and Mozilla. In short, mainstream user necessities. Mandrake, RedHat, SuSE, and Ximian are all represented in the chapter on system updates along with a pitch to get involved in the Linux community (this is a good thing).
The make-or-break chapters for those readers requiring office productivity solutions come near the half point of the book. Gagne gives an overview of OpenOffice.org's suite of MS Office counterparts. These are really meant as introductory lessons on migrating from the more familiar, more ubiquitous MS suite of applications and not intended as an in-depth look at OpenOffice.org. Here is where the user will judge whether Linux is a viable alternative to Windows. Productivity is essential. Can you create a document that can be shared in a Windows dominant world? Can you do it without struggling to learn new rules and exceptions to the rules? Gagne makes a strong pitch for ease of use in the Linux world.
The final chapters on multimedia and games round out the topics that every semi-literate computer user has on their "must know how to" list. Under multimedia, KsCD, XMMS and Noatun are covered, including visualization plugins and skins. K3b, Grip and MPlayer are also described. Favorite Linux games are represented: KSirtet, KAsteroids, Frozen-Bubble, KBattleship, KPatience, KPoker ... well, you get the idea!
Care has been taken in laying out the book; from the beautiful typography, the boxed asides with Quick Tips, Shell Outs and Notes to the Resources list at the end of each chapter. The book is easy to read and the author has a crisp conversational style of writing devoid of distracting anecdotes or sophomoric humor (chapter subheadings aside!). Gagne succeeds in providing a guidebook to Linux that should enable the average Windows users to make a smooth transition to a Linux distro of their choice. At the very least, Gagne gives the nervous Windows-to-Linux wannabe an excellent bootable Knoppix CD to test drive while following along in the book. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to someone who is looking to give Linux a spin but is afraid to commit their working PC to Linux entirely. This book and the accompanying CD will ease the way toward independence from Windows.
You can purchase Moving to Linux: Kiss the Blue Screen of Death Goodbye! from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews. To see your own review here, carefully read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.