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 Book Review: Learning Red Hat Linux
See Also: Dr.Bob's Programming Books for Delphi & C++Builder books co-authored by Bob Swart
Bill McCarty
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
378 pages (CD-ROM)

Once again, I must admit that I'm going to review a book that I would like to have read some five years ago, and again it is about Linux (see: Linux Programming Unleashed). In this case, it is ' Learning RED HAT LINUX'. It's subtitle tells us it is 'A Guide to Red Hat Linux for New Users'. Pretty much five years ago I was a 'new' user from the standpoint of using and programming for the Linux operating system, although I allready had some experience in other operating systems. At the time, I used Linux version 0.99. In the first chapter of the book it describes the situation of a student that uses Linux to get his work done while still having an uptime of 100 days. I can relate to that situation. I once had a 0.99 Linux system on an i386 with 16MB of memory that ran for 9 consecutive month without being rebooted. Bear in mind that I used that to develop software in C++. Program crashes, restarted deamons, the works, but one thing it didn't need was a restart. Besides that, I never have experienced file system trouble in all the years that I used the e2fs file system on Linux, and that is not something I can say of other file systems I have used...

Learning Red Hat Linux is written by Bill McCarty. The book is published by O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., ISBN 1-56592-627-7. It contains the Cheap*Bytes Red Hat 6.0 CD-ROM. The book sports the typical O'Reilly style, with oldish type pictures and a classic look. It has 378 pages in all and 13 pages for the table of content and the preface. Becarefull with rebooting or turning on your PC with the CD inserted, modern computers that can boot from a CD-ROM will start the installation process immediately.

The book basically takes your hand and leads you through the vast and wondrous thing that is called Linux. Well, not Linux alone. Topics include an introduction, making preparations to install Linux, installing Linux itself (which can be a challenge), using the command line, installing, configuring and using the X Window System, administration and configuration of Linux, using applications and clients, playing games, setting up a Linux-based LAN, making the connection to the Internet, setting up a Linux-based WAN and in the final chapter, conquering bash (1), the de facto standard Linux command line interpreter - oops, sorry - shell. Then follow 5 appendixes covering the directory tree, the principal Linux files, the Red Hat package manager, management of the boot process and finally a quick reference. The book is concluded with a glossary and an index.

This is a pretty complete book for people who are not totally ignorant of setting up and tinkering with computers and operating systems. It shows a method to use Windows to pry loose information from your hardware. It pretty much goes through the steps to create and maintain a usable Linux system. It does not go into each and every detail, but it covers enough of each topic to get you going and giving you a base for further exploration. If you want to start out with Linux and you have a moderate amount of experience fighting hardware and software, this is your book. If you're interested in using Linux but are illiterate in this area, then ask someone who is. The CD-ROM is bootable, and you might want to take care there. It would be nice if O'Reilly mentioned that fact on the disk.

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