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on November 2, 1999
I have downloaded and installed several Linux distributions (Red Hat 6.1, Caldera 2.3, etc.) in my search to find one that I like. I am also reading the book, "Running Linux, 3rd ed." which is teaching me the ins and outs of Linux. Debian GNU/Linux works for me because the book leads you step by step through the installation, plus it is setup more like traditional (non-commercial) distributions, which I am reading about in "Running Linux". Together, both books and the included CD, have me up on a simple home LAN where I can print from Windows machines, through my Linux server, and share files too. Not only that, but I understand it!
Yes, Linux does require a bit of time on your part to learn some of the Microsoft type things you use to take for granted, but you'll sleep better knowing that pointless lock-ups are a thing of the past.
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on September 25, 2001
This book is aimed for the very novice Linux user, who comes for
the first time to the world of Unix. From that perspective this book
could deserve one start more, but not more. The starting chapers covers
the installation process with screen prints from the debian installer and
they can't get clearer than that. But, In my opinion they do not add
any value to the book, because the Debian installation dialogs are
almost self explanatory and you don't need a book to show the
The part of the installation could have better server on concentrating
on setting up multi-boot system with various Win32 (Win9x,NT,2000)
combinations. THAT would have certaily deserved a star.
Setting up the X server is not "piece of cake", and the book
should definitely have devoted much more pages on it. You can almost
bet that you can't get X server working properly from Debian
installation with all those varoous video/3D cards and different
monitors (just count how many combinations are there). This chaper
is ESSENTIAL for any new Linux user that wants to see Graphical GUI.
Well, therte is not much information what to do if X fails to start.
(Btw, GNOME window manager is presented, not KDE)
Other Chapters in the book are average, medicode tratment of the
topics wich are by no means specific to Debian system: Use
administration, system services, learnign to use the basic shell
The Networking part may be appropriate in the US market, where
Modem (PPP) connections are in majority, but for European users,
the ISDN, LAN, WAN, Cable Modem are more for hte present. The book
only coves PPP and LAN. Authors should have covered ISDN as well,
because that's much harder than modem PPP.
In short, This is 2 start book. You're better served with something
more in depth book that a) you can refer all the time to get
problems solved b) or goes more deeper on the details of the specific
Linux distribution.
This book does not give you very good overview what is so special
with "debian".
You're much more better served with Michael Kofler's "Linux" book,
which gives in depth discussion and comparision of various Linux
system. It's one of the best Linux books around.
You can use it with Debian as well.
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on January 4, 2001
Learning Debian GNU / Linux is available free on the web: at the following web address.
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on January 27, 2000
The only thing wrong with this book is its assumption that Linux = Intel/X86. I bought it without expectation of getting Alpha-usable software on CD but hoped that the book treatment would be more general. The installation sections are definitely x86 only. Fortunately there is more than enough post-install information to make the book worth it to a Linux starter like me once I located the Alpha-specific instructions on the web. And the CD may save an x86 peecee from windows someday.
One wish: ALL Linux books should state on the cover or back if the information is limited to one processor type... Debian and Linux are multiplatform.
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on August 15, 2000
I have to agree with the Reader from New York. I received the book as part of the boxed set from the VALinux CD distribution. So, at a minimum, the price and material can't be beat!
But, in addition to the "xf86config" misnomer, the reader is also told to use the SHIFT-ALT-+ key combination to reduce the size of the virtual desktop. Well, as a newbie to Linux, as well as Debian, I must have looked like a trained monkey hammering away on that key combination, until I thought, "Maybe there was a misprint or misquote." And yes, the CTRL-ALT-+ combination worked just fine. By the way, the monkey was, of course, rewarded immediately with a reduced virtual desktop and a banana.
This is just one of several "small" errors in the book; however, to a Debian system newbie, the errors are annoying.
Also, the flow throughout the book was choppy, at best. Although the book and its flow start out well, providing sufficient detail to install successfully the Debian system without too many problems, by Chapter 5 the book has lost any useful level of specificity. I understand that once you get into the X Window environment, your choices for a window manager are numerous but sticking with two or three window managers, throughout the remainder of the book, would have been beneficial to the reader.
By the book's ending, the flow has jumped around so much that the reader can easily become overwhelmed and confused. Much like the middle of the book, the level of specificity is limited so that you can easily become lost in any LAN, WAN, or web server profile installation. I found myself constantly referring to the Debian "HOW TOs" for additional and more helpful information.
Better-presented books are available at the price level associated with this book. Overall, the book was misleading in that its usefulness began promisingly but ended disappointedly. If the level of specificity and flow found in the first four chapters had been carried throughout the remainder of the book, a higher rating would have been given.
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on January 23, 2000
For those accustomed to software manuals that consistently tell you everything that's already self-evident and nothing that you wanted to know, "Learning Debian Linux" is a breath of fresh air. McCarty strikes a rare balance in giving you enough information to get started using and understanding the Linux system, while not overwhelming you with arcane geekspeak. Using it as a reference, it's easy to find the facts you need quickly. Yet, it's sufficiently engaging that I found myself reading on, until by weeks end, I had read it nearly cover-to-cover. I do have a few complaints. I personally would have appreciated a little more technical detail on such things as routing tables and printer fonts. I was also disappointed to find no listing of common Linux error messages which, at least to the uninitiated, can seem as cryptic and unhelpful as those issued by Macintosh or Windows. Still, on balance, this is easily one of the best computed books I have encountered.
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on July 21, 2015
Somewhat old in terms of computer history. It would be useful for history and use on old hardware. The reader looking to install Debian GNU/Linux would be advised to try the latest which is Jessie Version 8.1 at the time of the review. Upgrading from the old version with the Debian mirrors would be problematic with the old version.
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on June 12, 2000
This book is smooth sailing for the newbie until chapter 5. In a previous chapter you were asked to load the "Basic" profile, out of a choice of about 10 "profiles".
Now chapter 5 simply starts by saying, "Run xf86config." Well guess what. No such package exists on the system. Being that I dumped Win'98 to learn Linux, I'm left unable to proceed with my learning. What's more, now that I'm booting up Linux all the time, Windows for me is now non-funtional.
Other problems: In chapter 3 you have to name your "outgoing mail host" - but what does that mean? In Windows, bad as it was, you'd "point and shoot" through your muddy way but you'd get there after a few stumbles. A lesser gripe: The book has a poor index.
I tried loading a new "profile". But lookout! Now you're asked a bunch of questions for which you'd need a new book for each profile.
To be fair to the author, I've tried to load Debian onto my only computer - a laptop - and because I have only one slot into which goes EITHER my cdrom OR my floppy, I skipped a step somewhere that called for me to make a backup floppy - because that would have meant to get into a catch 22 reboot situation.
Another big peeve - Why doesn't the book tell you how to back up or back out during setup? If you make a mistake, you've got to start the whole long install story all over again.
The first part of the book was good because it took me by the hand. Except that by chapter 5, I found myself adrift with no paddle to steer me any longer.
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on January 24, 2002
While it's nice to have a book cover the Debian specific installation procedure, too much space was wasted on repeating instructions like "with the arrow key, highlight 'Ok' and hit the Enter key". Too much space in this book is taken up with these trivial instructions, over and over again, it becomes tedius to read. If we didn't have to read about hitting the arrow and Enter keys with every little step, this book otherwise has some useful Debian specific information in it. Too bad the book couldn't have been packed with more useful info and fewer instructions on how to highlight a menu item.
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on April 27, 2000
This book was for my second foray into the Linux world. I have tried the Slackware distribution, and liked it, but I was looking for a convenient desktop-station version, but not one of the more commercialized versions. McCarty does an outstanding job of walking one through the intricacies of installing the Debian system, and the included CD (while not completely up to date) will put enough on your computer to make it reasonably easy to fill out your system directly from the Internet. There were a couple of small flubs in the book, but nothing that a little consideration couldn't solve. I love the Debian system, and I would recommend this book to any newbie who wants to start running Debian/GNU Linux.
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