When I received the “Learning Red Hat Linux, 2nd Edition” book from O’Reilly, I thought that this would be an in-depth guide, a way to hack around the Red Hat Linux operating system. It was a bit of let down for me to see that the book was for beginners. But, reading through it, I realized that the beauty of the book is in teaching new users lessons that are solid and well constructed throughout its 350 pages.The book is written by an assosiate university professor, Bill McCarty. The tone of the book is friendly and the pace easy to follow. Windows users or new computer users should feel comfortable reading even the more advanced chapters.
This is the second edition of the book, released in January 2002 and updated for Red Hat 7.2, but it should be relevant even for the new release of Red Hat 7.3 which was released just today. The book comes with two CD-Roms, both carrying Red Hat 7.2 for x86.
The book starts with the reasons why someone would like to try Linux (with a tint of Microsoft bashing at places), continues with a tutorial of what is a hard drive, a partition, how it is organized etc. Next chapter you will find out how to install the distribution step by step, while the next chapter is the first that gets into the point: “How Linux works”, which explains the general characteristics of the popular Unix-like OS. In later chapters you will find out how to use Gnome, KDE, Bash, RPM and how to configure Linux in a bit more detail.
From this point on, the book gets into more depth and it even includes information on how to make your modem or NIC to connect to the Internet, how to run SSH, Samba, sendmail, firewalls and how to configure Apache, LILO, and X11, among other advanced topics.
If I had to say that something is missing from the book, that would be the fact that there is not a word about how to compile applications and also there is no information on how to compile your own kernel. Another problem is that in some places the book seemed shallow. For example, I installed Red Hat 7.2 under VMWare and, for some reason, my emulated network card was not working. I had to bring the ethernet device “up” by myself, because the accompanied Gnome-based GUI tools that are explained in the book did not work! I had to search on the net and get down dirty with the command line to get the NIC working. In short, anything that “lives” in /etc/ will remain a mystery for the readers of this book.
New users will love the book for the reason that it is primarily targetted for them, while more advanced users will probably find some things they do not know yet on the second half of the book. A pretty good read overall, but after reading it, you may want to purchase a more in-depth Linux book if you are serious about Linux.
Overall: 8 / 10
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