October 28, 2005
Linux Desktop Pocket Guide: Advice for Running the Popular Distributions on Your Desktop
Sebastopol, CA--Linux has always been a desktop operating system. This was true when Linus Torvalds created it on his personal computer in 1991, and it remains true today. While Mac OS X and Windows XP bask in the limelight of their perceived brilliance or imperfections, Linux is being quietly installed on thousands of desktops every year. Programmers, system administrators, business users, and computer enthusiasts find desktop Linux a refreshing alternative to other operating systems. If there is any single impediment to desktop Linux's rapid adoption, one might say that it's the amount of information available to users: not a dearth of information, however, but the opposite. This is what David Brickner seeks to remedy in his new book, the Linux Desktop Pocket Guide (O'Reilly, US $9.95).
"There is so much information on the Internet about Linux, distributions, and basic use that it is hard to sift through it all, to know what is accurate and what is up-to-date," says Brickner. "This is quite a barrier for new users to overcome. This book provides timely information about the current state of the most important Linux distributions and the current favorite applications for desktop use."
This pocket-sized book introduces GNOME and KDE, the most-used desktop environments on Linux. It also covers the most popular GUI programs for web surfing, email, music playing, video watching, and CD burning. Since selecting a version of Linux to run is often the most daunting task for new users, the Linux Desktop Pocket Guide reviews and offers useful instruction on managing the five most popular distributions: Fedora, Gentoo, Mandriva, SUSE, and Ubuntu. Armed with this immensely useful information, new users can install Linux with confidence.
But no operating system truly "just works" and Linux is no exception. Linux is capable of running on most PC hardware, but sometimes it needs tweaking to make it work the way you'd like it to. Brickner addresses this issue as well: "I wanted to give some information about getting Linux working with your hardware, particularly your laptop. New users are often frustrated with the process of setting up printers, getting video to work, and configuring power management on their laptop. The last couple of chapters should help readers overcome many common problems."
Brickner covers all the hardware-associated topics that users need the most, such as configuring a video card, screen resolution, sound, and wireless networking. Laptop users will find advice on battery life, sleep and hibernate issues, and more.
Running Linux doesn't need to be difficult, and The Linux Pocket Guide was written to specifically address the needs those who are new to running desktop Linux. "Like many people, I found my initial forays into desktop Linux difficult," Brickner recalls. "Until I made the commitment to use Linux fulltime on the desktop, I never really felt comfortable with it. Within a week of running nothing but Linux, I had settled in and found the experience mostly enjoyable. Now, years later, I have a hard time getting anything useful done at a Windows machine, as I just don't feel comfortable with the way it forces me to work. I just can't stand not having virtual desktops."
Linux Desktop Pocket Guide
ISBN: 0-596-10104-X, 181 pages, $9.95 US, $13.95 CA
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