Craig Maloney writes "Over the long history of Linux, there have been many different distributions. One of the most famous distributions, love it or hate it, is the Ubuntu distribution. Ubuntu has come quickly from being the new kid on the block with the Warty Warthog release (4.10) to the most recent release Gutsy Gibbon (7.10). In that three year span, Ubuntu has grown from a handful of enthusiasts and developers to a thriving worldwide community. The Official Ubuntu Book is the official book from Canonical, which describes not only the Ubuntu distributions, but also the community from which Ubuntu is derived." Read below for the rest of Craig's review.The Official Ubuntu Book is comprised of 10 main chapters covering various aspects of the Ubuntu project. The first chapter discusses a bit of the history of the Ubuntu project, as well as the relationship of Canonical to the project. Chapter 2 dives into installing Ubuntu from either the Live CD or the Alternative installation CD. Chapter 3 shows how to use the applications that ship with Ubuntu with some detail. Some of the more in-depth programs get more attention, like The GIMP and Firefox. Also covered are the basics of the GNOME interface, such as adding items to the panels, or logging off of the system. Chapter 4 covers basic system administration (printers, upgrades, file sharing), and package management. Chapter 5 introduces the Ubuntu Server variant, covering RAID, LVM, and more package management techniques. Chapter 6 deals with support issues in a question / answer format, and is a great place for readers to get some of their more common questions answered. Chapter 7 covers the Kubuntu variant of Ubuntu in more depth. Chapter 8 and 9 introduce the Ubuntu Community, and the tools that keep the Ubuntu project running. These chapters alone should be required reading for anyone with more than a passing interest in the Ubuntu project. Lastly, Chapter 10 covers the Edbuntu project, and demonstrates how to set up a LTSP network. The appendices include the Ubuntu related documents, a quick tutorial on the command line, and a great Windows / Ubuntu equivalent section for those who are looking for the best alternatives for certain Windows programs. All-in-all, The Official Ubuntu Book covers the main aspects of the Ubuntu project in a very thorough manner.
Included with the book is the Ubuntu 7.04 release (Feisty Fawn) on DVD. This is a solid release, and was current at the time the book was published. It still has 12 months active support even in light of the recent 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) release, and should give those looking to try Ubuntu an excellent starting point.
The biggest issue facing a book like The Official Ubuntu Book is determining a target audience. Ubuntu appeals to a wide range of people; from the newest newbie to the hardened UNIX aficionado. Making a book that speaks to both is no easy task. Fortunately, The Book does an admirable job of providing enough to keep both parties interested. New Ubuntu users will find lots of information about how to get things accomplished in Ubuntu, while seasoned UNIX user will find enough information to see what th differences are between Ubuntu and other Linux distributions. Both will find a great introduction to participating with the rest of the Ubuntu community in the later chapters of the book. Any user of Ubuntu would be well served in reviewing those chapters fora sense of what opportunities exist, and how best to participate in the community given their talents and skills. True, the chapters describing specific applications lack much depth, but the omission can be forgiven in light of the shear amount of material covered. Just learning how to navigate what is provided on the live CD could fill a tome the size of this book, leaving no room to discuss the more about the community. The Official Ubuntu Book balances between both extremes, and provides plenty of information about both the Ubuntu distribution, and the community.
The success of the Ubuntu project is due in no small part to the people who spend their time participating with other Ubuntu users. Reading the book not only gives a sense of what Ubuntu is about, but also shows how open and inviting these users are. It may not be the best tutorial for the new Linux user, but it is an excellent book for those who want to take the next step and be a part of putting together and supporting a large Linux distribution. The Official Ubuntu Book captures the spirit of the Ubuntu community well, and brings the excitement in a palpable form to the reader. I can recommend this book to new users of Ubuntu with only the caution that they may need to find other resources to learn the many new programs that ship with Ubuntu. However, I can also highly recommend this book to anyone who has even a passing interest in getting involved with the Ubuntu project, both new and experienced. The Official Ubuntu Book, much like the Ubuntu project, is an ambitious undertaking, and similarly we all benefit from their hard work.
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