The latest version of Ubuntu Linux, 7.04 Feisty Fawn was released yesterday and at the same time a courier showed up at my door with a package from Apress Publishers. The package contained their wonderful Beginning Ubuntu Linux book, now in its second edition. When I reviewed the first edition, almost a year ago, I liked it a lot. The second edition is also geared to the newbie, just like the first one, but there are a number of changes, all of which for the better.
First off, the book comes with a double sided DVD containing both the 6.06 and 6.10 releases of Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu and Edubuntu, which means that there is something for everyone. The basic chapter is the same, starting with an introduction to what Linux is and what you can do with and progressing to how to get around to installing and using Ubuntu. But some sections of the text have been reorganized and additional matter added. Of course, everything is now up-to-date with regards to the 6.10 release. There are more screenshots, which is always a good thing for a new Linux user.
The installation guide is still written in a hold-your-hand manner, something that is certain to be reassuring to people installing their first Linux. The section dealing with common installation problems and their fixes has been expanded and the typesetting is now much clearer, making it easier to find the problem that you are looking for. The getting-started sections as well the introductions to common programs retain their well-written style but have been improved by adding further screenshots and by providing howtos for common tasks.
One thing that I especially liked about the first edition was the section on using the BASH shell to perform slightly more advanced tasks. The corresponding section of the new edition provides much of the same information, but advanced topics are better explained. The chapter regarding filesystems, users and file permissions has been improved and expanded. This will be a welcome change for first-time users as file permissions can often be something quite hard to understand and quite easy to misuse.
By far the section that has received the most attention is the one regarding software management. There are instructions on keeping your system up-to-date as usual, but also guides on installing an anti-virus software (which is probably not necessary, but many people feel safer with one around) and also on adding more repositories. This is handy for people who are ready to pass out of the “newbie” stage and move on to do some exploring.
On the whole, the book lives up to its claim of being “Written for newcomers to Linux, yet comprehensive enough to appeal to even seasoned users”. While readers will derive the most benefit in the first few weeks of their Ubuntu experience, there is a good chance that you will you be looking up some of the more advanced matter even after a good few months. The second edition has the same price as the first one : $39.99, but whereas the first one was a fair deal, the new one, with all the new material and the power-packed DVD, is a downright bargain. If you’re looking for your first Linux experience, but unsure where to start, I recommend you pick up this book.