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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
Red Hat Linux Unleashed (3rd ed)
Author:
David Pitts&Bill Ball
ISBN:
0 672 31410 X
Publisher:
Sams
Pages:
1019pp+CD
Price:
£37-50
Reviewer:
Francis Glassborow
Subject:
unix
Appeared in:
11-4
My son recently installed Linux on one of my machines. On paper the job should have been simple. After we had got round the problem of an old CD-drive timing out during the installation process we still had a problem with getting the machine to serve the other computers in my LAN with printer resources. In the end we got a work round by having any machine wanting access to log on as root. Now this is far from satisfactory. If my son was a self-taught tyro the blame could be laid there, but he isn't. OK so my hardware is far from the standard mix but nothing that outlandish.

A few weeks later I was witness to the efforts of an experienced user trying to install Linux on his laptop in order to act as a gateway for a LAN to the Internet via a dial-up. Assisting him was an extremely experienced Linux user with expert level knowledge of LANs. After countless hours of deep frustration they finally got it working. I am not going to itemise the problems here but at least one was caused by ineffective probing for PCMIA cards with resulting address conflicts.

What has all this to do with this book? Well there are quite a few problems with Linux that the enthusiasts need to be more honest about. The authors of this book are supercilious when they talk of other operating systems. When you have just struggled with problems getting Linux to work (on hardware that causes the other systems little if any difficulty) you will not be very receptive to the tone (intended to be light hearted) of much of this book.

The book comprehensively covers all the common packages for Linux, but again I find I must emphasise that you either need a lot of time or expertise. When things do not work the way the book suggests they will you will probably find it hard (or expensive) to find someone with the expertise to sort out the problem. This is one of the major differences between Linux and Windows, the latter is well understood by the 'boy next door' whilst the former is not.

If you have the time and inclination to become a Linux expert this book would be one to put on your shelf, after you have worked through it from cover to cover.