Running Linux, greatest book ever: O'Really???

Running Linux, greatest book ever: O'Really???

Post by Gilles Pelleti » Wed, 24 Nov 1999 04:00:00



In a thread entitled "Linux Books" somebody came out again with
Running Linux being THE book for beginners. I bought the book on such
advice and found it was pure trash. I really don't recognize Welsh's
straightforward style in this haphazard structure and those crappy
jokes.

So I gave a few quotes to support my POV. To my surprise nobody
replied. Should I understand everybody agrees or does anybody have
something to say in favor of this book?

-------------------

(...) Here's an excerpt from page 76, 3rd edition:

"We suggest that Unix novices do some reading on basic Unix usage and
system administration. Most of the remainder is going to assume some
familiarity with these basics, so don't say we didn't warn you."

Too bad they don't warn you on the cover instead of on page 76...

If  I compare to his tutorial on the web, I don't recognize Welsh's
style. For a beginner, the book is confusing. Most of the intro is no
use. Too much babble you don't need, no >orderly< hands on approach.

I open the book and... here's an exemple, p. 166:
"(...) and Cd-ROMs suffer from dust, and fingerprints, as well as
being inserted upside-down -- that kind of thing. (If you attempt to
mount your Stan Rogers CD ISO 9660 format, you will likely run into
similar problems.)

Ha, ha, ha! So funny!

I wouldn't mind "ISO 9660 format  is for data only" but I'd leave "as
well as being inserted upside-down" for the "For dummies" series.

OTOH, it oftens happens you don't find the information you need.

Where is it said, for instance, that you can set an extended partition
active and install LILO there so it doesn't get wiped out if you
reinstall Windows?

The index  refers to info about /home on pages 94 and 226. On page...
95, you do learn that it's where user files reside and, 131 pages
later, (p. 226) that it's a good idea to back it up.
Where do you learn that it's a good idea to make /home and /usr/local
partitions so that they won't be scrapped by the next installation?
Yes, in the partition section, on page 51, you do learn it's a good
idea to have separate "filesystems" for /usr and /home. You always
have to read half the book to get to the information you need.

On page 107, under "What is a Command", you find the only information
in the book about the Path. You learn how to modify it temporarily at
the prompt. Where is it explained how to modify it permanently?

Under "prompt", the index first refers to page 78, where you find
information about... the LILO prompt. (Obviously, the index has been
dumbly set from a database that blindly records words.) On page 93, in
"Logging in", you do get info about the prompt, namely  that Linux is
case sensitive, that "root" is not equivalent to "ROOT". (Really? How
does one manage to get to page 93 without knowing this?)

Ok. Now you want to know how to have the path at the prompt ( e.g.:

you do learn that  "You certainly won't have much fun if you have to
stay in one directory all the time."  (O'Really? Couldn't figure this
out!) Then, "cd" changes to another directory and "pwd" shows where
you are, but you won't find a single word on showing the path at the
prompt.

This book is ill written and grossly overrated. I doubt it's any use
to experts and it's pure nightmare to beginners. And it's the third
edition! I guess this is how far "printed on acid-free paper with 85%
recycled content" can get you. Does O'Really expect this book to be of
any use in a century from now?

Gilles Pelletier

C.c.: O'Really

P.s.: Oh, yes! A good book... IMO, there is none and there never will
be. Linux is a complex OS. In order not to bore some people to death
while giving all necessary information to others, a tutorial in the
form of interlinked html files would be the solution. But no company
will come up with such a product as it would be too simple to copy.
And besides, imagine, the file would only have to be slightly modified
when an update comes... No no-acid here! It's a no-paper solution!

Instead of being written by illeterate Linux experts, it would have to
be written by a writer who knows nothing about Linux. But Linux
experts find it humiliating. They'd rather offer ?support? to
litterate people at 100$ an hour than be offered support for writing
for free. As everyone knows, the Os is free, but Linux is strong on
support.

So, for the time being, you still have to rummage through piles of
books to find even the most basic information. It's a tremendous lost
of time. And guess who's benefiting from it?

GP
--
La Masse Critique
http://altern.org/gipe
Rencontrez Nfertiti, Einstein, Tocqueville, etc.

 
 
 

Running Linux, greatest book ever: O'Really???

Post by Efemima » Fri, 26 Nov 1999 04:00:00


Agreeing with Gillies about the potential dangers of misleading information
to a new user, especially with a tough cookie that Linux can be, does
anyone know where an Linux-OS manual exists, say, on the web?
(Downloadable preferably).
Its really annoying as you have an idea in mind but can't execute it cause
you don't know the command for linux, like DOS "copy".

Much help needed.  'Nuff said.
"Efemimab"

--
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Running Linux, greatest book ever: O'Really???

Post by Yves Bellefeuil » Fri, 26 Nov 1999 04:00:00



> Its really annoying as you have an idea in mind but can't execute it
> cause you don't know the command for linux, like DOS "copy".

Have you had a look at the DOS/Windows to Linux How-To?

"The purpose of this document is to help the reader translate his or her
knowledge of DOS and Windows into the Linux environment, as well as
providing hints on exchanging files and resources between the two OSes."

--

Ottawa, Canada
Francais / English / Esperanto
Maintainer, Esperanto FAQ: http://www.esperanto.net/veb/faq.html

 
 
 

Running Linux, greatest book ever: O'Really???

Post by Gilles Pelleti » Fri, 26 Nov 1999 04:00:00



Quote:>Agreeing with Gillies about the potential dangers of misleading information
>to a new user, especially with a tough cookie that Linux can be, does
>anyone know where an Linux-OS manual exists, say, on the web?
>(Downloadable preferably).

I don't believe the problem is with understanding the commands:
they're listed in pretty much every Linux boot and the man pages give
more info (which makes the books pretty redundant). As if it wasn't
enough, some distros come with m commands, mdir being the equivalent
of ls. Besides, one must not expect to learn all commands before
beginning to install: practice makes perfect.

What is needed is comprehensive and comprehensible information
presented in an orderly manner to install and administer the system.

Gilles Pelletier

Quote:>Its really annoying as you have an idea in mind but can't execute it cause
>you don't know the command for linux, like DOS "copy".

>Much help needed.  'Nuff said.
>"Efemimab"

>--
>Posted via CNET Help.com
>http://www.help.com/

--
La Masse Critique
http://altern.org/gipe
Rencontrez Nfertiti, Einstein, Tocqueville, etc.
 
 
 

Running Linux, greatest book ever: O'Really???

Post by Gilles Pelleti » Fri, 26 Nov 1999 04:00:00




>> Its really annoying as you have an idea in mind but can't execute it
>> cause you don't know the command for linux, like DOS "copy".

>Have you had a look at the DOS/Windows to Linux How-To?

>"The purpose of this document is to help the reader translate his or her
>knowledge of DOS and Windows into the Linux environment,

I'm afraid not too much ?translates?. Of course, if you know what a
batch file is, you understand better the concept of a shell script,
but of what real help would experience in the former be in the latter?

Those who read french can follow the discussion that takes place on
fr.comp.os.linux under "Running Linux, un bon livre?"

Gilles Pelletier

>as well as
>providing hints on exchanging files and resources between the two OSes."

>--

>Ottawa, Canada
>Francais / English / Esperanto
>Maintainer, Esperanto FAQ: http://www.esperanto.net/veb/faq.html

--
La Masse Critique
http://altern.org/gipe
Rencontrez Nfertiti, Einstein, Tocqueville, etc.
 
 
 

Running Linux, greatest book ever: O'Really???

Post by UhUh.. » Fri, 26 Nov 1999 04:00:00






>>> Its really annoying as you have an idea in mind but can't execute it
>>> cause you don't know the command for linux, like DOS "copy".

        ...<snip>...
        I came on this thread late, but, one command that I've found very
helpful is 'man -k <keyword>', sometimes implemented as apropos.  For
example 'man -k xconfig' will tell you about various commands involving
X window configuration, such as XConfigureEvent, then you could try
the command 'man XConfigureEvent' to follow up on it.

--
Exaggeration is a trillion times worse than understatement.
    also: remove "UhUh" and "Spam" to get my real email address -----

 
 
 

Running Linux, greatest book ever: O'Really???

Post by Yves Bellefeuil » Fri, 26 Nov 1999 04:00:00




Quote:> I'm afraid not too much ?translates?. Of course, if you know what a
> batch file is, you understand better the concept of a shell script,
> but of what real help would experience in the former be in the latter?

The DOS/Windows to Linux How-To tells you what DOS commands correspond
to what Linux commands. For example:

DOS                     Linux                   Notes
----------------------------------------------------------------------

CD dirname\             cd dirname/             almost the same syntax
COPY file1 file2        cp file1 file2          ditto
DEL file                rm file                 beware - no undelete
DIR                     ls                      not exactly the same
                                                syntax
MOVE file1 file2        mv file1 file2          quite different syntax
RD dirname              rmdir dirname/          almost the same syntax

I think this is exactly the kind of help that a user coming to Linux
from DOS needs the most.

--

Ottawa, Canada
Francais / English / Esperanto
Maintainer, Esperanto FAQ: http://www.esperanto.net/veb/faq.html

 
 
 

Running Linux, greatest book ever: O'Really???

Post by Jerry L Krep » Fri, 26 Nov 1999 04:00:00



> Agreeing with Gillies about the potential dangers of misleading information
> to a new user, especially with a tough cookie that Linux can be, does
> anyone know where an Linux-OS manual exists, say, on the web?
> (Downloadable preferably).
> Its really annoying as you have an idea in mind but can't execute it cause
> you don't know the command for linux, like DOS "copy".

> Much help needed.  'Nuff said.
> "Efemimab"

Try 'Linux in a nutshell', from O'Rreilly
JLK
 
 
 

Running Linux, greatest book ever: O'Really???

Post by Yves Bellefeuil » Fri, 26 Nov 1999 04:00:00




Quote:> That's a good joke! The index of a well written book (or preferably,
> as I said, of an html tutorial) could be used instead of "Linux in a
> Nutshell". But honest people at O'Really prefer to sell two books.

_Linux in a Nutshell_ is a reference, and quite a good one, but not a
textbook. Different readers have different requirements, and _Linux in a
Nutshell_ isn't suitable for beginners.

For people new to Linux but not new to computers generally, I'd
recommend a combination of _Running Linux_ and the Linux Documentation
Project (LDP) material. The LDP is at http://metalab.unc.edu/LDP/, and
much of its documentation should be on your Linux CD-ROM.

--

Ottawa, Canada
Francais / English / Esperanto
Maintainer, Esperanto FAQ: http://www.esperanto.net/veb/faq.html

 
 
 

Running Linux, greatest book ever: O'Really???

Post by Gilles Pelleti » Sat, 27 Nov 1999 04:00:00



Quote:>Try 'Linux in a nutshell', from O'Rreilly
>JLK

That's a good joke! The index of a well written book (or preferably,
as I said, of an html tutorial) could be used instead of "Linux in a
Nutshell". But honest people at O'Really prefer to sell two books.

There's a lot of pretense in O'Really's name. A lot.

GP

--
La Masse Critique
http://altern.org/gipe
Rencontrez Nfertiti, Einstein, Tocqueville, etc.

 
 
 

Running Linux, greatest book ever: O'Really???

Post by i.. » Sat, 27 Nov 1999 04:00:00




Quote:> Agreeing with Gillies about the potential dangers of misleading
information
> to a new user, especially with a tough cookie that Linux can be, does
> anyone know where an Linux-OS manual exists, say, on the web?
> (Downloadable preferably).
> Its really annoying as you have an idea in mind but can't execute it
cause
> you don't know the command for linux, like DOS "copy".

        For that level of knowledege a good beginners book on
        UNIX will do. If you are a complete UNIX novice, then
        a "Big Dummy" or "Complete Idiot" book ought to get you
        started.
        Beyond that getting real good at "regular expressions"
        tends to make life easier. That and realising just how useful
        the "|"  (pipe) character is.

--
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limit the powers afforded to government.
Government now wishes we would forget this.

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Before you buy.

 
 
 

Running Linux, greatest book ever: O'Really???

Post by Timothy Murp » Sat, 27 Nov 1999 04:00:00



>The LDP is at http://metalab.unc.edu/LDP/, and
>much of its documentation should be on your Linux CD-ROM.

Sadly, I don't think it is on RedHat-6.1 CD.
It was on 6.0, as I recall.

--
Timothy Murphy  

tel: +353-1-2842366
s-mail: School of Mathematics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland