Book Review: Tuning and Customizing a Linux System

An overview of various distributions and packages, how they are different and how you can use them to build firewalls, multimedia systems and more.
The Good and the Bad

The most specific and technical parts of the book are slightly outdated (the Red Hat version analyzed is 7.3), as almost always happens. Furthermore, most software-related books include many screenshots, lines of code or both, but Tuning and Customizing a Linux System is an exception. With the exception of the firewall case, there are almost no pictures (even in the desktop multimedia chapter!), and code and command lines are rare. Mainly, the book is page after page of simple text.

This is not necessarily bad. Remember that the purpose of the book is to teach general criteria for customizing and managing GNU/Linux systems, not to give programming advice or all the tricks of a specific distribution. In this sense, taking the time to discuss at length the principles behind the implementations, rather than explaining each script line by line, is a plus and doesn't become obsolete as fast. For the same reason, Parts Two and Three are the most valid and interesting. Perhaps the only defect is the content is a bit repetitious. The author is very competent, however, and it shows everywhere in the text.

Marco Fioretti is a hardware systems engineer interested in free software both as an EDA platform and (as the current leader of the RULE Project) as an efficient desktop. Marco lives with his family in Rome, Italy.


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