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
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
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
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
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?
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
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?
La Masse Critique
Rencontrez Nfertiti, Einstein, Tocqueville, etc.