Running Linux

Alright, enough about Windows. But not enough about beer. But that’s another tale for another time. Recently I received a copy of the latest edition of Running Linux (number 5 is alive). The author credits go to Matt Welsh, the author of the original, and Matthias Kalle Dalheimer, and it is published super-recent. Before I get started, full disclosure is that I do some work occasionally for O’reilly and they sent me this copy to check out (but not do any work on). Well, I’ve checked it out and this ditty is what I think.

First things first: Edition 5 is significantly fatter than the 2nd edition that’s hung around my desk for many years. It also contains more information. That’s good, because we like to look for linear scaling or better as you fatten up a book (those montrous blahblahblah bibles were garbage with information spread out and scattered). Running Linux’s index is a solid and useful 39 pages.

This latest edition of Running Linux (and I speak comparatively to several editions back) is much friendlier. The main reason for this is that Linux software has gotten much friendlier, and it deals with prettier, easier, more consistently usable software. However, Running Linux remains a power-user book. Dummies stay away. There are overviews of software packages to read Word Documents, but it also shows how to use groff to write a man page. There is a discussion of office sweets and personal information management systems, but it also discusses nuances of GPG. And it goes over some popular package management systems, but it also has pointers on reading core files. Good times!

Running Linux is broken into several sections. End user programs, networking, programming, system administration, and more are covered. There are far too many topics to cover completely. If you have nonspecialized work to do on a Linux system. By nonspecialized, I pretty much mean you’re not writing drivers or running Oracle RAC (or Ham radios). This book has a lot. But that doesn’t mean it’s the end-all linux book. It covers a ton, but it’s pretty agnostic. It does a good job explaining the general solution, but google or more in-depth tomes will occasionally be useful. I promise.

Anyway, like I said, Ed. 5 of Running Linux is pretty sweet. The one gaping omission to me is the Mutt mail client.  For power users. Instead of buying some silly Bible book, get this one, it has a lot. And it’s actually pretty well-written, with fairly casual vignettes.

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