REVIEW - Running Linux 3ed


Running Linux 3ed


Matt Welsh




O'Reilly ()




Ian Brunt


June 2000



The book contains a lot of detail, without recourse to rambling.

Now in its 3rd edition, Running Linux now carries a sub heading, the 'one-stop shopping guide to Linux'. As in the previous editions, its 700+ pages aim to explain everything you need to know in order to install, use and maintain a Linux system.

The content of the previous edition has been updated where necessary, as well as adding sections for some of the more commonly used applications. These include the KDE and GNOME desktops, installing and configuring Samba, a product that allows Linux to share files and printers with Windows and DOS machines and configuring common dialup connections to Internet service providers. References are also made when required to highlight the differences between some of the major distributions, particularly those from Red Hat, Suse and Debian.

Topics covered include:

  • Installing Linux. What information to have ready and the different ways to set up a system.
  • Some basic commands for those users coming from a non-Unix background, particularly from Windows or DOS.
  • The various help systems available.
  • General system management and backup options.
  • Installing and removing applications.
  • Using various text and graphic editors.
  • Printers and Printing.
  • Installing, configuring and tuning the X Window system.
  • Some programming options. C, various shells, Perl, Tcl/Tk, debugging and now Java are briefly covered.
  • Using Samba to share resources with Windows and DOS systems.
  • Networking, including installing and configuring TCP/IP for both a local network and PPP dial-up connection (using normal PSTN telephone lines and ISDN).
  • Installing, configuring and using the Apache web server, email and WWW browsers.
  • Installing Linux on non-Intel systems, particularly PowerPC, Alpha, Sparc and 68xxx systems.
The book contains a lot of detail, without recourse to rambling. Naturally, some subjects are lightly covered but as the authors admit, it is not possible to cover everything. There are however always pointers to sources of further information, particularly the various help systems and online documentation. The authors also acknowledge that for people from a non-Unix background, Linux can feel very strange and so make useful comparisons with equivalent Windows/DOS operations where possible. References to the history of many of the commands and parts of the system are also made when it is relevant to the discussion at hand.

Even with the improved installation and management applications of many modern distributions, a Linux system can still be a large beast to tame. The book does however contain lots of simple tips and potential pitfalls to look out for. Many of the available utilities for managing the system are described, but also what is happening behind the scenes, should you wish to manage the system manually or for picking up the pieces when things go wrong.

The authors are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the subject, but successfully manage to convey a lot it in a down to earth and digestible manner and without being blinded to suggest that it is perfect and ideal for everyone. A lot has happened to Linux in the five years since the first edition. As this is an update and not a rewrite, it shows what a good job was made of the subject in the original. In summary I like this book a lot. It attempts to cover a lot, some of which can be technical. It is written in a clear and consistent manner, although being the combined effort of three authors. It's useful for those from a Unix background looking for Linux specifics, but most use will be obtained from those new to Linux, especially those with experience of other PC operating systems. It has to be highly recommended.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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