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Linux Books Media Software Book Reviews

Running Linux, 3rd Edition 76

O'Reilly's Running Linux is something of an established textbook on learning Linux from the beginning to getting deeper in the innards. The latest version is written by Lar Kaufman, Matt Welsh and Kalle Dalheimer. Click below to read the review of the newest edition of the book.
Running Linux, 3rd Edition
author Lar Kaufman, Matt Welsh, and Matthias Kalle Dalheimer
pages 752
publisher O'Reilly
rating 9/10 --
reviewer chromatic
ISBN 156592469X
summary This book tells you what you need to know to install, configure, and begin mastering Linux.
Note: this review is based on a Draft copy of Running Linux.


You've decided to take the Linux plunge. You have a computer all set up and you have your shiny new CD in hand. You're excited and nervous all at the same time. You've put in some time on your shell account at work, but you're not a power user. This dual-booting thing might be for you. But the CD just sits there next to the black screen... where do you go from here?

"Running Linux" seeks to take you from that first icy shock of installation to the deep end of recompiling kernels, upgrading system libraries, and tweaking your X configuration.

The intended audience is people with some previous Unix experience who are willing to get their hands dirty under the hood of their installations. There are frequent references to man pages and HOWTOs for gory details.

What's good?

The authors take an early distribution-neutral stance, glossing over some of the slick configuration utilities in favor of editing text files. While that may dissuade some users, it has the benefits of being universally applicable as well as more educational.

The section on installation is particularly good, discussing common pitfalls, partitioning techniques (and preferences), and various configurations, including dual booting. The Samba information is also quite good.

"Running Linux" covers a wide scope of other utilities, from Apache to gdb, Tcl/Tk to the GIMP.

What Might Bite Back?

There's a lot of material covering a lot of subjects. This means that there's not much fat here -- just the bare essentials. Consider this your roadmap and be ready check the references provided when you need to know more.

Some of the applications covered appear only by personal preference. For example, fvwn, elm, and smail are discussed, while WindowMaker, pine, and sendmail are not. That's not a big issue, however.

Feel free to jump around between the chapters -- the arrangement is more encyclopedic than progressive. Common tools such as vi or Emacs appear in chapter 9, while kernel upgrades and modules show up in chapter 7.

One of the larger limitations in the draft copy was the conspicuous absence of GNOME-related material. Thankfully, the final version includes an appendix written by members of the GNOME team. (One of the authors, Matthias Dalheimer, develops KDE.)

The Bottom Line

If you're the curious type, looking to play around with Linux, and you need a little friendly advice and some suggestions on where to look for further information, this is the place to start. If you've used Linux for a while, and want to start understanding your system, this is also the book for you.

Pick this book up at Amazon.

Table of Contents (abbreviated)

Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux
Chapter 2. Preparing to Install Linux
Chapter 3. Installation and Initial Configuration
Chapter 4. Basic Unix Commands and Concepts
Chapter 5. Essential System Management
Chapter 6. Managing Filesystems, Swap, and Devices
Chapter 7. Upgrading Software and the Kernel
Chapter 8. Other Administrative Tasks
Chapter 9. Editors, Text Tools, Graphics, and Printing
Chapter 10. Installing the X Window System
Chapter 11. Customizing Your X Environment
Chapter 12. Windows Compatibility and Samba
Chapter 13. Programming Languages
Chapter 14. Tools for Programmers
Chapter 15. TCP/IP and PPP
Chapter 16. The World Wide Web and Electronic Mail
Appendix A. Sources of Linux Information
Appendix B. The GNOME Project
Appendix C. Installing Linux on Digital/Compaq Alpha Systems
Appendix D. LinuxPPC: Installing Linux on PowerPC Computers
Appendix E. Installing Linux/m68k on Motorola 68000-Series Systems
Appendix F. Installing Linux on Sun SPARC Systems
Appendix G. LILO Boot Options
Appendix H. Zmodem File Transfer

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Running Linux, 3rd Edition

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