Author: Matt Welsh & Lar Kaufman
Publisher: O'Reilly & Associates
Reviewer: Grant Johnson
There has been an increasing thirst for information about Linux which hasn't been fully quenched by a book...until O'Reilly & Associates got together with Lar Kaufman and Matt Welsh, the Coordinator of the Linux Documentation Project and the author of Linux Installation & Getting Started, to take on this project. Unostentatiously titled Running Linux, this book is a perfect blend of polished knowledge, organized in an easy-to-grasp package, like most books in the O'Reilly line.
Running Linux covers everything you need to install, use and understand the Linux operating system. This cornucopia includes in-depth installation and configuration instructions, tutorial and discussion of programming tools for system and program development, information on system maintenance, network administration guidelines, and everything in between. The book opens with an explanation of the GNU General Public License and some background concepts. It also includes a brief history of the Linux system; starting with the UNIX operating system that was the inspiration for Linux, then covering its creation by Linus Torvalds in 1991, on to the present day—or pretty close.
Continuing on, you'll find a comprehensive installation tutorial that leads you step-by-step through the tedious task of setting up and configuring Linux on your PC, independent of which distribution you decide to use (although some examples from the Slackware distribution are given). All the basic concepts relevant to installation are discussed here, and solutions to many common problems are presented.
Next is a presentation of basic UNIX concepts, most of which are not unique to Linux, but which you need to know to take advantage of Linux. You don't want to drive a fancy, powerful operating system without knowing how to shift and steer it. This chapter teaches you how to shift, steer, stop, and even read maps and road signs.
Running Linux also provides complete information on Linux system and network administration. Basic functions such as repairing file systems, installing software, and administering user accounts are made easy. More advanced features such as UUCP, TCP/IP, e-mail, SLIP, PPP, and other serial telecommunications are also discussed. You are even shown how to provide network services from your Linux machine. This includes a section on configuring your very own World Wide Web (WWW) server and writing HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language) documents for the WWW.
The programming languages and other system tools features in Linux are thoroughly described in both theory and practice. Among these tools are the gcc C and C++ compiler, the gdb debugger, perl, Tcl and the Tk toolkit, the Emacs and vi editors, text formatting systems such as TeX and tools designed to interface with MS-DOS.
Lastly, Running Linux offers helpful installation and configuration information to make setting up XFree86 a bit easier. This project alone has been known to cause rashes and other stress-induced ailments, but reading the keep-it-simple approach in Running Linux can help keep you healthy...
In short, this book answers the questions the novice users are too afraid to ask, and the questions gurus won't admit they don't know.