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Keywords: Linux, Gnome, StarOffice, operating system, desktop
Title: Exploring The JDS Linux Desktop
Authors: Tom Adelstein and Sam Hiser
Media: Book, CD
Verdict: Recommended to those users migrating to JDS from Windows
The Java Desktop System (JDS) is a bundle consisting of the Linux operating system (based on SuSe Linux), Sun's StarOffice suite (which is the badged version of the open source OpenOffice.org) and a selection of some of the best open-source products available. It is, in other words, a desktop Linux system complete with a full range of standard business applications, including office productivity suite, mail and calendaring, web browser, networking and so on. The link to Java is tenuous and down to marketing more than anything else.
Authors Tom Adelstein and Sam Hiser are our guides to the contents of the JDS in this fairly non-technical introduction. The target audience are Windows users who want to get to know and love this alternative operating system and set of applications. As such the book steers well clear of arcane technical matters and concentrates on showing how to get the most out of the Gnome desktop and the various applications and utilities.
The book starts with a couple of chapters that introduce the desktop and operating system, from starting up to navigating the file system to running programs to installing printers. The focus is on using the desktop tools rather than on getting too intimate with the command-line.
Networking gets a chapter to itself, including details of installing and using dial-up to going wireless and hooking up to other machines in a LAN. The tone manages to avoid being patronising (which is a temptation some authors cannot resist when showing naive users how to do anything slightly technical), which makes for a comfortable read. Having shown how to get networked the book follows up with a chapter on how to get JDS up to date and how to install new patches and applications.
From there on the focus is less on the desktop and more on the apps, starting with email and calendaring. The JDS uses Evolution for mail and calendaring, gaim for instant messaging and Mozilla as the main web browser. All of these are introduced in turn, with step by step screen shots and instructions along the way. In fact the book is packed solid with plenty of screen shots to help the reader, though the monochrome graphics aren't the most enticing in the world?
StarOffice, Sun's version of OpenOffice.org, gets a couple of chapters too. One for StarWriter and another for StarCalc and StarImpress. These really only scratch the surface and anyone really interested in getting to grips with these would do well to pick up a dedicated title or two, such as OpenOffice.org All in One.
Finally, the JDS also includes CrossOver Office for running Windows apps under Linux. The chapter on this also gives a passing mention to VMware and Win4Lin. Again the material only really scratches the surface, but the authors at least cover it in enough detail to get people started.
The book also comes with a LiveCD version of the JDS, so readers can try before they buy without risking their current systems.
In conclusion this is a well-paced introduction to a complete desktop system and is recommended to those users migrating to it from Windows.