Moving to Linux, by Marcel Gagné

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, send e-mail
Published by: Addison Wesley, go to the web site
Requires: N/A
MSRP: $34.99 (U.S.), $49.99 Canada)

If the move to (or just an attempt at) Linux is something which scares/horrifies or causes dread/fear, perhaps the main problem is that you just haven't found the right source book to guide you through the process? Complete with friendly language, a clear and concise tone, a CD containing a very usable version of Knoppix, and enough depth to satisfy even the most dedicated pessimist, Moving To Linux may be your ticket out of Windows hell and into Linux nirvana. Now where have we heard THAT before?

Well we've heard it a lot actually, but author Marcel Gagné seems to truly understand the needs of some of us lest ept folks. We want to try new things, but we don't have a lot of hours and days (between work and family) to spend in endless configuration and learning sessions. At 347 pages, 18 chapters, 2 appendices and an index, Moving to Linux is the right size and depth for weekend computer warriors.

So what's it good for and will it get you up and running with Linux quickly? In a word, yes. Initially, I didn't bother with the Knoppix version supplied on the book's CD, instead opting for something more comprehensive. So I downloaded all three CDs worth of Mandrake Linux from Free is free after all and the Mandrake version is very good. Following the installation and set up advice in the book provided an excellent learning platform and it was easy to understand the differences between Linux and Windows at each stage of the process. The end result was not only a stable installation of Mandrake Linux, but also a clear understanding of what had just taken place.

Once installation is complete, Marcel Gagné takes you step-by-step through the process of fully configuring Linux. Everything important is dealt with: the wealth of software supplied with Linux installations, the desktop (KDE, GNOME, X, Konqueror, etc.), video, audio, instant messaging, installing programs, browsing, e-mail, installing new hardware, updating various flavors of Linux (Mandrake, Red Hat, SuSE, Red Carpet), spreadsheets and other documents, scanning, graphics (using the excellent GIMP program), printing, CD burning and multimedia. Everything important is covered and the information provided is thorough enough to help new Linux users gain confidence and learn to work quickly and effectively with the operating system and all its applications.

Cons: Knoppix? Why did the author choose to include Knoppix? The are so many more comprehensive Linux packages. Even though Knoppix is usable, it's really not a beginner package. We're still on a quest for the absolutely perfect Linux book. This one is great, but you will need another more advanced publication if you get into very complex Linux use. A comprehensive list of Shell commands is needed.

Pros: Too many to list in the available space. We liked the book from the very first page right through to the end. Gagné has done a solid job of exposing Linux and all its components in a way that is both inviting, useful and easy to understand. Appendix B contains an excellent guide to the basics of working with the Shell and KDE's Konsole in particular. Well organized and thorough Index - key information is easy to look up. The section on downloading, extracting and compiling programs and kernels is also excellent, with concise and accurate instructions which guide new users through the process. We really liked this book - highly recommended.

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