One thing I love about Linux is the rapid development and frequent updates that allow me to run the latest versions of all my favorite software packages. My favorite distributions make it simple to always have the latest and greatest. In fact the distros themselves roll out new version regularly and I am always excited to see what new packages and features will be included. For book publishers this must be a little less exciting. Anything tied to a specific product that is under active development is going to quickly be behind the times. Mark Sobell’s A Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux managed to avoid the worst of this by providing a lot of information that is useful for any Linux user running any distro. But still things move forward and almost exactly a year later we have A Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux 2nd ed.. I was very pleased with the first edition and I think they’ve managed to really improve what was already a solid resource.
The Ubuntu Pocket Guide by Keir Thomas can be purchased in dead tree form or downloaded for free as a pdf. Clicking on the title or cover pic will take you right to the page where you can get it. This page has the table of contents as well as a little more info. on the book. While I am not an Ubuntu user personally (Fedora is my preferred distro) I know there are a lot of them out there.
Hackerteen is an interesting new project, a graphic novel being published by O’Reilly. What makes it interesting is not just that this is a rather new direction for O’Reilly but that this is, to my knowledge, a rather unique publication in that it seeks to educate teenage youth about an array of issues ranging from privacy, free software, security and the impact of politics on personal freedom as it relates to the use of technology. Making topics like that exciting, and understandable to a young person may sound like a tall order, and I think it is.
When I first started working with Linux just a short 10 years or so ago, it was a little more difficult than now to get going. I remember the difficulty I had, wrestling with my first Slackware install and getting all the floppies together to get the packages that I needed. Today, a person who has never set on eyes on Linux before can have it installed on it’s own system or alongside another OS in almost no time with a very nice graphical installer walking them through the process. I also remember the hours I spent looking for the little piece of knowledge that I needed to conquer my next problem. Now, someone new to the community has a vast array of resources available on the web, or if they are inclined to begin with Ubuntu, they can literally find almost every single thing they will need in the single volume of Mark Sobell’s “A Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux.”
The X Window System has been around for over twenty years and is the display system for an incredibly wide range of operating systems. With the number of Linux users growing, there are more people working with X than ever before. Most modern desktop environments provide user friendly interfaces that make modifying X rather simple. There is not so much need to dig into config files and settings as in the past but for those environments without such tools or for the user who loves to dig deep into their environment this book can be a simple way to understanding how X works and how to tweak it in any number of ways. If you want things that ‘just work’ and have no interest in digging around below the surface this book is not for you. On the other hand, if you think the best thing to do with a shiny new tool is to take it apart, well “X Power Tools” by Chris Tyler may be just for you.
As a dba, I’m constantly looking to learn more about networking and system administration. Both can have quite an impact on the performance of my piece of the puzzle. A welcome addition to the materials to help me learn about networking is Carla Schroder’s “Linux Networking Cookbook“. This book is just right for the person like myself who enjoys learning by getting hands-on experience with the technology. The scope is wide and so someone with a great depth of networking experience may find that the treatments of each is a bit shallow. On the other hand, that wide scope means this book may hold something new, even for someone with some level of experience.