Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Four Linux books that’ll get you going


By David Gewirtz

With more and more interest in Linux and with IBM's increasing investment in open source technologies, we've been getting a steady stream of reader questions about migrating to Linux. Questions have ranged from the very basic "What does Linux mean to me?" to the hands-on usage questions, all the way to questions like, "Can Linux be secure enough for my organization?"

This month, I've selected four books that can help you answer these questions, get started with Linux, and learn how various Linux services and resources compare with their Windows server counterparts.

The Linux Cookbook(s)

The first books I'm going to talk about are called The Linux Cookbook. Yeah, I know, I said books, plural. I'm actually covering both The Linux Cookbook 2nd Edition by Michael Stutz, published by No Starch Press, and a completely different Linux Cookbook by Carla Schroder and published by O'Reilly.

When I asked both publishers about the name similarity, the answer I got was somewhat vague. Reading between the lines, I gather some wires got crossed somewhere during the naming process and now we have two books by virtually the same name. Such is life, eh?

In any case, let's first look at Stutz' book from No Starch Press, shown in Figure A.


No Starch Press has their own The Linux Cookbook. (click for larger image)

This book is a whopping 788 pages long and reminds me of the old-school UNIX books we used to read back in the 80s. Stutz has written a book full of command-line sequences for accomplishing everyday tasks, including searching and sorting text, matching lines in files, preparing files for printing, and more.

It's tough to categorize this book. It's not really a book for server administrators, in that there's very little about configuring Apache, managing mail servers, dealing with DNS, fixing installation problems, and all the other stuff server admins need to handle.

There's also very little GUI-related instruction in the book. You can thumb through page after page, and while once in a while you'll see a screenshot, most of the time, you'll simply see command-line sequences and standard output. There was a small mention of the GIMP photo editor, but the book is almost entirely aimed at command-line tricks.