Book Mini-Review: A Practical Guide to Red Hat Linux

Mark G. Sobell wrote a lengthy book about Red Hat Linux and Fedora, A Practical Guide to Red Hat Linux, and we are taking a look at its draft copy (second edition released end of July).The first chapter goes through the history of Linux and the values of Free Software. I must say that the first chapter feels a bit preachy and biased, but after that, the book gets better and more meaty on the topic at hand.

Next, you will be guided on how to install Red Hat Linux (or Fedora), as the book gets you step by step and explains every step with full verbosity. After the installation, on the Part II of the book you get an introduction of the basic concepts of the RH desktop. What stroke me as weird was that the author started talking first about KDE (and in fact instructs the user to select KDE from the GDM list instead of using the default Gnome). For a book that is supposed to follow Red Hat’s defaults and then expand on other non-default territories this was a weird move indeed (“learning Konqueror” anyone?).

After that point, the book really gets down to business and introducing the user to many-many topics, all from the absolute newbie point of view: how to login, how to use utils like man, how to use DEs, the unix command line utils and how to use the terminal, how the linux filesystem is layed out and how to get the most of it using the shell.

Then, you will find a lot of information about how to dip in onto network administration, SELinux and other system administration topics, how to install software, how to print with CUPS, rebuild your Linux kernel etc. The next part of the book discusses how to setup many kinds of servers, including NFS, NIS, Samba, FTP, sendmail, Openssh, DNS/Bind, IPTables, Apache. In fact, this part of the book is extremely valuable for both newbies and experienced users.

The next part discusses programing and regular expressions. There is a bit of quick run over C and how to compile programs, but the author is more into Bash it seems. I would advocate that a quick PHP/MySQL tutorial too, would fit right into place with this book.

The book is full of explanatory graphs, tables and screenshots to help the new user understand better this huge volume of new knowledge unleashed through the book. The author’s writing style is friendly and easy to follow.

Conclusively, this is THE book to get if you are a new Linux user and you just got into RH/fedora world. There’s no other book that discusses so many different topics and in such depth. I removed 1 point from the overall rating though because of the “preaching” in the first few chapters that gets a bit tiring and to me, doesn’t always strike honest.

Overall: 9/10

Buy “A Practical Guide to Red Hat Linux


  1. 2004-08-10 2:09 pm
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  4. 2004-08-10 8:00 pm