Friday, June 24, 2005

Book review: Beginning SUSE Linux

Apress sent me a copy to review. This is an introductory softcover book about how to use SUSE Linux. It includes SUSE 9.1 Professional version on DVD.

It's jam-packed with information that is suitable for the Linux newbie. However, it also offers info I haven't seen in introductory Linux books before about using, backing up personal data (command-line and graphically), optimizing your system, using Rekall and security. Sure, these topics are covered in a few texts like O'Reilly but not usually with so many screencaps and step-by-step exercises.

As with most introductory textbooks that try to cover a little of everything, nothing is covered in depth, but I've seen more depth here than most beginning books and more to the point, it's great to see a book for my favorite distro! This book will take the beginner through from installing SUSE Linux to using it as their everyday desktop. Enough is covered about using the shell that it won't be terrifying to newbies but will still give them a solid grounding in the console.

The book is easy to get into and a delight to read. If you've always wondered about SUSE (or just Linux), there is simply no better book that I've seen for becoming an intermediate user.

My only complaint is that the book includes a DVD instead of one or several CDs. I may be wrong here, but I really don't think DVD-ROM drives are so common in systems that everybody can be expected to have one. And seeing as how this is a book that's actually specific to a distro, having the distro on CDs would be handy. Thankfully, you can download a one-CD version of 9.1 Personal from the SUSE website and then use a mirror as a source instead of the CD so you can get professional packages too. To give them credit, the book does mention this for the DVD-challenged amongst us.

More information as well as a sample chapter is available here.


At 11:03 a.m., Anonymous Mel said...

I read the chapter that your Blog referred me too. Like most Linux Books that I have read and I have a few hundred as well as magazines. I find that most use a lot of ink telling about the begining of Linux. I for one like to get into the meat of the thing and don't like a lenthy biography or introduction. since I have not read this book I really don't know if that is true in this case or not. But I find it to be so over 90% of the time.
From ATL

At 10:57 a.m., Blogger Jason said...

That's very true, Mel. This book spends about 20 pages on the history and advantages of Linux then it jumps right into getting SUSE installed. What's a nice bonus is that it actually has a chapter on installation problems you might come across and how to handle them. Things like turning off ACPI and DMA which cause various distributions to lock up.

What I like about this book is that is does go beyond the very basics. For example, ssh, sftp and using grep and vi are also covered.

I've read about a dozen beginning books to Linux and so far I think this is probably the best one I've seen so far as for striking a balance between treating you like a moron and getting into some of that meat you describe.

At 12:44 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting your review of the book, Jason.

It helps a lot to have someone make a recomendation on a beginners Linux book, who has also read other beginners books and can make a knowledgable comparison as to how good the book is put together.


At 2:03 p.m., Blogger Jason said...

Thanks for your comment, Bill. I'm glad you found the review helpful.


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