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The Desktop Linux Book Roundup
(Updated May10, 2007)

With so many interesting desktop-oriented Linux books published on an ongoing basis, we thought it would be valuable to create a convenient "Desktop Linux Book Roundup." We plan to update the Roundup on a continuing basis, so be sure to check back now and then to see the latest listings.

Note: Please post your comments on these, as well as on other desktop-oriented Linux books you know about, in this talkback thread. We'll use your suggestions to add suitable books to the Roundup. Enjoy!

Hacking Ubuntu: Serious Hacks, Mods and Customizations, by Neal Krawetz

Neal Krawetz's new how-to book, Hacking Ubuntu: Serious Hacks, Mods and Customizations, explains how to tune Ubuntu to your personal tastes by changing startup music, background, fonts, icons, colors, and more.

"The basic install of Ubuntu provides a usable system. But usable is not the same as optimal," writes author Krawetz.

"Just as a home isn't a home until you add furniture, the default installation of Ubuntu is fine for short-term use, but to really be usable over the longer term, it needs to be customized," Krawetz writes.

"Changing the background, sounds, fonts, buttons, and themes enables you to configure the desktop for whatever is best for you. For some users, static environments are best, but the user interface supports scripts that can dynamically change the desktop based on the current environment. Informative backgrounds, changing icons, smart menus, and adjustable fonts can really add to the system's usability and your own productivity," he writes.

Read more here.

Ubuntu Linux for Non-Geeks, by Rickford Grant

Open source teacher Rickford Grant, author of "Linux Made Easy," has a new volume to help non-technical users get started with Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu Linux for Non-Geeks is characterized as "a pain-free, project-based, get-things-done guidebook," by its publisher, No Starch Press.

Ubuntu has rocketed to the top of the charts in popularity, but despite great strides in usability, Ubuntu is still Linux and therefore not quite as easy to get up and running as some other operating systems, Grant writes. Thus, new users need help getting started, the author contends.

Ubuntu Linux For Non-Geeks is a hands-on, project-based, take-it-slow guidebook intended for those interested in -- but nervous about -- entering the world of Linux, according to the publisher.

Read more here.

Linux Phrasebook, by Scott Granneman and Christopher Brown

Linux Phrasebook, newly published by Pearson Education ($14.99), offers a concise, pocket-sized reference that, like a language phrasebook, can be used on the fly. It's also a useful reference book for desktop Linux users who want to learn a bit about using the command line.

Skipping the usual how-to tutorials, the Linux Phrasebook goes straight to practical Linux uses, providing immediate applicable solutions for day-to-day tasks, the publisher said.

Linux Phrasebook aims to become the pocket guide that users keep within reach at all times. It includes code phrases that allow Linux users to use the command line to accomplish onerous and repetitive tasks, as well as flexible code and commands that can be customized to meet the needs of any Linux user, according to the publisher.

Read more here.

The Official Ubuntu Book, by Benjamin Mako Hill, Jono Bacon, Corey Burger, Jonathan Jesse, Ivan Krstic

A new book aimed at both new and experienced users of Ubuntu Linux is due out in August. The Official Ubuntu Book, from Prentice Hall ($34.99), covers all the important facets of the popular new Linux distribution, and features a foreword by Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth.

The book will show ordinary users how to install and use this free operating system, the publisher says. It demonstrates how to customize Ubuntu for personal and small business use, and sets the stage for using the distro's open-source power in schools, government, or businesses.

Read more here.

Ubuntu Hacks, by Bill Childers, Jonathan Oxer, Kyle Rankin

Ubuntu Hacks, a new volume from O'Reilly Media ($29.99), explains the phenomenon of Ubuntu's popularity, expounds on its use, and offers easy-to-understand "hacks" -- that is, how to tweak it to do exactly what you want.

Don't be put off by the title. While "hacking" has a bad reputation in the press today, the term originally referred to solving difficult problems or devising a creative ways to get something done.

O'Reilly's Hacks series -- of which Ubuntu Hacks is the latest -- is an attempt to reclaim the word, document the good ways people are hacking, and pass the hacker ethic of creative participation on to the uninitiated, the publisher said.

Read more here.

Point and Click!, by Robin "Roblimo" Miller

If you're among the many people considering dumping Microsoft Office for 2.0 but fear change, well, that's normal. However, now there is a new book entitled Point & Click!, authored by leading open-source journalist Robin "Roblimo" Miller, that aims specifically to quell such fears.

The book includes two CD-ROMS -- one with "how-to" video tutorials demonstrating 20 essential tasks, and one including all the software discussed: OpenOffice 2.0 for Linux (and Windows), plus the latest versions of the Firefox Web browser and Thunderbird email software. 2.0 is a complete office productivity software suite that includes all the features a desktop user needs for a Linux (or Windows) computer: word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, drawing -- even databases. And it has a big advantage in that it is completely free of charge.

Read more here.

Point and Click Linux!, by Robin "Roblimo" Miller

A book from Prentice Hall PTR claims to show its readers how to "Have Linux up and running in 5 minutes or less with the incredible MEPIS bootable CD-ROM." Point & Click Linux! is written by Slashdot's "Roblimo" (Robin Miller). The book is touted as "the perfect gift for that Linux beginner in your life" and aims to show the advantages of using SimplyMEPIS Linux over other operating systems.

"Robin's book will show you the benefits of switching to Linux immediately," according to the publishers. "Your computer will run faster and more reliably than you ever believed possible. Surfing the net will no longer be an exercise in paranoia. And you'll discover a whole new world of powerful, free software that can run rings around the programs available for Windows."

Read more here.

Red Hat Fedora 5 Unleashed, by Paul Hudson and Andrew Hudson

Red Hat Fedora 5 Unleashed, a new IT volume from Sams Publishing, includes new and additional material based on the latest release of Red Hat's Fedora Core Linux distribution, according to the book's publisher.

The book aims to provide the best and latest information that intermediate to advanced Linux users need to know about installation, configuration, system administration, server operations, and security. Co-authors Paul Hudson and Andrew Hudson incorporate an advanced approach to presenting information about Fedora, the publisher says.

The book includes a DVD with the complete Fedora Core Linux distribution; revised information on hot topics new to Fedora 5, such as AMD64, wireless networks, and programming in PHP, and Perl; and an updated discussion of the architecture of the Linux kernel 2.6 and how it relates to USB, KDE, GNOME, and more.

Read more here.

Linux Multimedia Hacks, by Kyle Rankin

Linux is often thought to be inferior to Windows and Mac OS when it comes to multimedia applications. However, by using open source software and a few simple tips, one can easily turn a simple Linux box into a multimedia powerhouse, according to Kyle Rankin, author of Linux Multimedia Hacks.

Linux has often been overlooked for these types of applications, he writes, but multimedia programs under Linux are getting more and more mature. Rankin's book, one of O'Reilly's "Hacks" series, contains 100 hacks to help readers get the best multimedia experience from their computers, the publisher said.

Read more here.

Linspire 5.0: The No Nonsense Guide, by Eric Grebler

Eric Grebler's Linspire 5.0: The No Nonsense Guide (Mimosa Books, $29.95, 320 pages) is included free with every copy of desktop Linux distro Linspire Five-0 or CNR Edition. No Nonsense covers many topics standard to both Linspire and other distros. Each set of step-by-step instructions is accompanied by a screen capture showing exactly where to click to accomplish a project.

Included is a Linspire Live CD-ROM that enables users to test the benefits of Linspire before committing to install it on a computer.

The book also can be bought directly from the Linspire website or via, where it retails for $19.77.

Linux Desktop Pocket Guide, by David Brickner

David Brickner came to the conclusion that the biggest obstacle to faster adoption of Linux on the desktop was that there's too much information available. So what does he do to remedy this situation? Write another book, of course! It's titled the Linux Desktop Pocket Guide.

"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," writes 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 guide focuses on five popular Linux distros -- Fedora, Gentoo, Mandriva, SUSE, and Ubuntu.

Read more here.

Just Say No to Microsoft, by Tony Bove

Crashes, viruses, worms, patches, forced-upgrades... Despite all these drawbacks, why does Windows still dominate the PC desktop? Why haven't users switched to Mac or Linux? Tony Bove answers these questions and explains how to "escape the Beast from Redmond and still function," in his new book, Just Say No to Microsoft.

According to its publisher, Just Say No to Microsoft is an entertaining overview of the computer desktop world, but it also features practical information about alternative operating systems and programs that will help Microsoft captives exercise their freedom of choice.

Read more here.

Moving to Linux (2nd Edition), by Marcel Gagne

Author Marcel Gagne is the creator of the WFTL (Writer and Free Thinker at Large) Linux distro, which is included with the book as a LiveCD. The book's target audience is beginning end users of Linux systems. Intermediate end users who want a gentle introduction to the Linux command line will also find this book valuable.

"If there was one word that I would choose to describe (this) new book, it would be cheerful," writes staff writer Christian Einfeldt, in his review of Gagne's book.

Read more here.

Linux Made Easy, by Rickford Grant

Author Rickford Grant bases his assertion that "Linux is easy" on Xandros 3, generally considered one of the most user-friendly desktop Linux distributions. The book, which comes with a copy of Xandros 3, concentrates on the subjects of most interest to the average home user or hobbyist -- installation, using the Internet, playing multimedia files, using scanners, working with digital cameras and images, games, downloading software and fonts, USB storage devices, PDAs, printing, Internet telephony, and more.

In this article written specifically for readers, Grant introduces his book and explains the rationale behind it. Read it here.

Guide to Linux, by Peter van der Linden

Prentice Hall has announced the publication of Peter van der Linden's Guide to Linux, which includes a Linspire LiveCD and is aimed at Windows users who are considering a move to Linux. The book outlines the pros and cons of making the switch, according to its publisher.

The 12-chapter, 640-page volume touches on the basic facets of running Linux on a PC -- setting up email and connectivity, document file/print, etc. -- and walks the reader through running the Linux liveCD. The appendices provide a technical overview of more advanced topics, including BIOS, device drivers, using the command line, and disk partitioning.

Read more here.

(Click here for further information)

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