Linked by Walter Kruse on Thu 8th Jan 2004 06:55 UTC
Linux It seems that I am in some sort of retro-mode. As Linux on the desktop is getting bigger and better, with more apps, more sleek looks (Galaxy, Keramik and Blue Curve for example) and more idiot proof, I am going onto simpler, more condensed stuff. The big distributions are nice, but I really do not need all the applications that come with them all the time.
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For those wishing to learn more about Linux without having to spend months learning (and unlearning) bits and pieces of information off the Web, there are now some good alternatives.

My favourite is the recently published book "Moving to Linux - Kiss the Blue Screen of Death Goodbye!", by Marcel Gagne', Addison Wesley, ISBN 0-321-15998-5. This book is perfect for the person who already knows their way around one of the popular commercial OS's, and who wishes to learn how to use Linux. It's well written, comprehensive, informative, and filled with useful screenshots. It's also surprisingly up to date for a book on Linux, for instance the screenshots are of KDE 3.1 (Linux evolves so fast that most Linux books are out of date before they hit the bookstore shelves). List price is $34.99 USD, about what the average basic boxed-set Linux distro costs.

Marcel Gagne' is one of the most popular writers for Linux Journal, among other things. He is unusual among technical writers in having a sense of humour and writing entertainingly while still being technically accurate, complete, and understandable.

By the way, Gagne's book is KDE-centric; if you're a Gnome fanatic this may not be the book for you, but then again, if you're a Gnome fanatic, you're not part of the target audience for this book.

My second suggestion is a slightly older book, "Linux in the workplace", written by SSC, No Starch press, ISBN 1-886411-86-7. This book (published in 2002) reads more like the typical computer book, which is to say it's not exactly a fascinating page-turner, reading more like a dictionary than like one of Shakespeare's works. However it does contain a great deal of information in one place, complete with lots of screenshots. This book too is KDE centric, though of course the screenshots show a somewhat older version of KDE. I've forgotten what I paid for it, and there is no list price printed on the cover, but I believe it was in the $35 range also.

To anyone wanting to learn to use Linux, but bewildered by all the newsgroup posts about sendmail, bash, bind, sylpheed, kernel versions, crontab files, and all the other Linux arcana, these books are a breath of fresh air. They do not presume you are a Linux fanatic, or that you want to know every detail of how your OS/distro/filesystem/kernel works. They simply show you how to effectively use a Linux distribution running the KDE desktop to get your day-to-day work done. Of the two, I much prefer Gagne's book, not only because it is more current, but also because it is more fun to read and therefore more likely to be useful to you. (Few people have the intestinal fortitude to read a book they don't find enjoyable).