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Keywords: Linux, operating system, open source
Title: The Official Ubuntu Book
Author: Benjamin Mako Hill and Jono Bacon
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Level: Introductory Linux
Verdict: A useful book for the Linux beginner
It should be no surprise that Ubuntu has so quickly established itself as one of the leading Linux distributions. Ubuntu looks good, is highly user-friendly, has excellent community support and is incredibly easy to install, upgrade and keep up to date. Add to this the vast number of utilities and applications that can be downloaded and installed in a matter of a few mouse clicks and it's clear why it has succeeded so well. Now, for those looking for a book to help them on the way, the Official Ubuntu Book is out in a new edition to match the 7.04 release of the software.
Aside from sporting an install DVD, the book offers the new user plenty of support to get started. There's also plenty of information on the history of Ubuntu, the philosophy that drives it, the importance of community and the relationship with Canonical, the software company that underpins it all. And, while the main focus of the book is one the Ubuntu desktop edition, there's also coverage of some of the other versions, including Kubuntu and the server edition.
The book is clearly aimed at the new user wanting to install and run Linux, possibly side by side with Windows, possibly as a direct replacement. As such this isn't an overly technical or geeky read. It's certainly not pitched as a reference manual or as an in-depth guide to the hacker wanting to jump ship from another flavour of Linux or Unix. With that proviso in mind, the new user is going to find a lot of useful information.
As well as walk-throughs of installation, the book helps the new user navigate through the standard set of applications that are installed with Ubuntu, from the OpenOffice.org office suite to media viewers, CD/DVD burners, browsers etc. For those users coming from the Windows world, the fact that the operating system comes with so many essential bits of software is a big bonus, and the book does a good job of introducing them all.
But it's not just the software on the install CD that makes Ubuntu so useful, it's also the acres of other software that can be downloaded and installed in seconds. The process is described in some detail, showing how to locate, download and install new software and operating system updates. Similarly there's help on getting peripherals up and running, including printers.
As mentioned previously, there are chapters devoted to some of the other Ubuntu 'projects'. For example there is a chapter on Kubuntu, which is a version of the operating system that uses the KDE desktop rather than the default GNOME desktop. There is also a chapter on the Server version, including topics such as setting up RAID storage and the like. While it's good that there's some coverage, the truth is that anyone seriously looking at setting up a Server box would be better off looking at a more technical book than this one.
However, for the average end-user wanting to move away from Windows to Ubuntu, this is a great place to start.