The Ubuntu Beginner’s Guide – A very good book for intermediate beginners (and up) – #ubuntu #linux #bookreview

The Ubuntu Beginner’s Guide

Sixth Edition

Jonathan Moeller

(Azure Flame Media, LLC – Kindle)

This should not be your first book on how to use Ubuntu, particularly if you consider yourself not much of a computer geek and you are fleeing Microsoft Windows to escape the death throes of XP (or the life throes of Windows 8).

However, The Ubuntu Beginner’s Guide is an excellent how-to book that can add to your enjoyment and mastery of Ubuntu once you are comfortable with opening applications, downloading the latest updates, and doing some basic work at the command line in Linux. In other words, once you are ready to learn more about what else you can do with a PC running Ubuntu (besides typing on it and surfing the web), The Ubuntu Beginner’s Guide definitely can help. (It focuses on Ubuntu version 12.04 — not the latest, but still a good release that will be supported for a few more years.)

Jonathan Moeller spends much of his book showing how to set up an Ubuntu PC as a server platform, for example an Apache web server, a MySQL server, a DHCP server, and an FTP Client and Server, among others. His instructions are clear, and you don’t have to flip from one chapter to another to keep track of all of the steps. He repeats setup steps when necessary to help the reader stay focused on doing a task from start to finish. (I am definitely not a Linux guru, but I have used Moeller’s book thus far to assign some static IPs, set up SAMBA file sharing, set up an Apache web server, and do several other tasks that I’ve wanted to learn. Some reviewers have criticized the author for repeating certain steps for each process. But I appreciate the convenience of staying focused on just one or two pages at a time.)

Meanwhile, later chapters focus on web applications and “the eight best applications for a new Ubuntu desktop installation.” (No spoilers are given here.)

“Hosting web applications,” Moeller writes, “is where Linux really shines….Ubuntu Linux can run a variety of web applications, ranging from simple interactive sites to powerful content management systems.” In his book, he shows “how to install three of the most popular content management systems on an Ubuntu web server — WordPress, MediaWiki, and Drupal” — and explains what a LAMP server is. “LAMP is simply an acronym for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP (or Perl and Python).”

The author covers several other useful topics, including how to create a bootable USB flash drive, how to run some Windows software on Ubuntu using the Wine application, and how to manage eBooks on Ubuntu. And he describes how to enjoy some computer games on Ubuntu, even though the “gaming experience” admittedly will not measure up to Windows machines, various mobile devices, or dedicated game consoles such as an XBox or Playstation.

If you have not yet tried Ubuntu and still wonder if you will like Linux or not, start with a book such as Ubuntu Made Easy, which comes with a CD that lets you try Ubuntu 12.04 without actually installing it. (And , if you do like it, you can use the same CD to install Ubuntu on your PC). Then, after you get comfortable with the basics and want to know more, get The Ubuntu Beginner’s Guide.

Si Dunn

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Ubuntu Made Easy – A simple, well-guided way to try Linux without installing it – #bookreview

Ubuntu Made Easy: A Project-Based Introduction to Linux
Rickford Grant, with Phil Bull
(No Starch Press
, paperbackKindle)

Curious about Linux? (Many of us are.) Wondering if you should put it on one of your PCs and venture out into a different realm that some of our geek friends constantly tell us is “better” (or even “vastly better”) than Windows?

The Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) CD that is packaged with this book “lets you both try Ubuntu without installing it and install Ubuntu to your hard drive once you’re ready,” the writers note. “It’s called a live CD. You can boot your computer from the CD and run Ubuntu directly off the CD without touching your hard disk to see if you like Ubuntu and to make sure that Ubuntu will work with your hardware. If, after running the live CD, you like what you see and everything seems to work, you can install Ubuntu on your computer using the same disc.”

During the installation process, you can choose to install Ubuntu to run within Windows (with slightly limited functionality), using the Wubi installer. Or you can take the full plunge and install Ubuntu outside of Windows. You can put it in a separate partition and create a Windows-Linux dual-boot setup. Or you can replace Windows with Linux, after carefully backing up all of your important data.

Ubuntu Made Easy: A Project-Based Introduction to Linux offers plenty of clear how-to information, screen shots, and step-by-step tips in its 22 chapters and four appendices. One detailed chapter covers how to fix common problems that may be encountered. The book’s cover is goofy, but the contents are solid.

The projects in this book primarily are exercises that help you put your new Linux and Ubuntu knowledge to work. You will learn, the authors state, how to “configure and customize your Ubuntu system.” And the book is organized “so that, as much as possible, you won’t be asked to do something that you haven’t already learned.”

Specifically, the projects range from (1) setting up printers, scanners, flash drives and other devices so they work with Linux, to(2) creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with the office-related applications, to (3) installing and playing free games and editing and sharing digital videos and photographs, to (4) using or staying away from the Linux command line.

Ubuntu Made Easy is not a book that will appeal to “seasoned geeks or power users” with Linux experience, the authors concede. But it does take a lot of the mystery out of what “running Linux” actually means.

The book and Ubuntu CD can make it simple and affordable for many computer users to see what much of the hype and hoopla over Linux is all about — and then decide, from first-hand experience, if they want to join in or not.

Si Dunn