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The Debian System: Concepts and Techniques 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1593270698
ISBN-10: 1593270690
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Editorial Reviews


"I was extremely impressed . . . strongly recommend for . . . anyone who wants to get the most out of Debian." -- TaoSecurity, January 21, 2006

"Likely to have a long shelf-life . . . a technical book for sure, without fluff or off-topic detours, and packed with information." -- Linux Journal, February 1, 2006

"One of the most complete works covering any distribution or, indeed, operating system, embracing the culture of the active community." -- Linux User & Developer

"This book will have something new in store for all but the most advanced Debian users." -- MozillaQuest Magazine, February 24, 2006

"This is the definitive Debian manual . . . There isn't anything about this book I don't like." -- Groklaw, June 15, 2006

This book has the potential to become the future Debian Bible. -- Freshmeat, September 10, 2005

About the Author

Martin Krafft has been a faithful supporter of Debian since 1997, working as a developer and a PR person, and fielding user questions on mailing lists. He has experience administering mid-sized networks and providing user support, and is responsible for numerous university servers and a 40-node cluster of Debian machines. Krafft is currently working on his Ph.D. at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (September 29, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593270690
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593270698
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,085,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Forget about debian being hard to install. Pick up a copy of this book, and be on your way to enjoying an operating system that is well built, and orders of magnitude more stable than Windows. In fact, I had zero installation issues with debian -- which compared favorably even with my attempts to install Fedora, another popular and well-regarded Linux distribution.

I liked this book because, finally, an author has had the presence of mind to write a book that did not regurgitate Unix commands like 'ls' and 'vi' for the gazillionth time. The focus is on debian, and only on those parts that make debian unique -- the culture of the "debian project", the notoriety for its alleged difficulty of installation (which I have not experienced), the speed and timeliness of its releases (not!), and homage to that supreme program -- apt-get and its close relatives.

Those new to Linux may do well to first read a general Unix/Linux book before delving into this one. They will also be well served by first playing around with Knoppix (...) which is a debian derivative that does not require a hard-disk install. This is especially useful if you are not (yet) prepared to wipe your hard disk clean of Windows.

If you're not a rank beginner, buy this book, and install Debian 3.1 which is on the accompanying DVD. People wanting a more polished and up-to-date debian might want to try its close cousin, Ubuntu (...). While individual packages might vary somewhat, the concepts presented in this book are applicable across debian and its progeny (including Knoppix and Ubuntu).

In summary, raise the quality of your Linux reading a few notches by purchasing this book, and raise the quality of your personal computer usage by installing debian or its derivatives.
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Format: Paperback
I was extremely impressed by Martin Krafft's "The Debian System" (TDS). I approached this book as a fairly experienced FreeBSD user and an occasional Linux user. (I run Debian on i386 and PA-RISC, but I wanted to know more about Debian as a system.) I strongly recommend TDS for two types of users. The first group includes anyone who wants to get the most out of the unique techniques and tools found in Debian. The second group includes developers and users of other operating systems who are looking for different ways to approach system administration problems. Both groups benefit from TDS' thorough and commanding coverage of Debian and its community.

Prospective TDS readers should understand that this book is unlike any I have read on operating systems. Readers will not have to skip pages on setting up Apache or configuring BIND, thankfully! Instead, TDS covers core system administration subjects to a degree I have not seen elsewhere. I do not mean that TDS delves into kernel structures in the way that McKusick and Neville-Neil's "The Design and Implementation of the FreeBSD Operating System" does. Rather, Krafft takes readers on an inside tour of the how and why of Debian. Rather than just explaining a technique or tool, the author discusses the overall problem, possible ways to approach it, and Debian's solutions. He presents pros and cons for each, and then demonstrates usage with command line syntax and sample output.

Krafft is obviously a Debian enthusiast, but he is not a zealot blind to any flaws Debian might possess. He is also not afraid to praise other OS' (like NetBSD) or declare that certain misconceptions (think debconf) are invalid.
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Format: Paperback
This is probably the best book about Debian ever written, but it has a specific target audience: those who are already familiar with GNU/Linux, or at least other unices.

This book is not about GNU/Linux in general, it is about Debian GNU/Linux and as such this is an very important book. Debian is quite unlike any other GNU/Linux distribution. With over 1000 volunteer developers, completely community oriented and community driven, it provides over 15000 (that's right - fifteen THOUSAND!) applications on 14 CDs (but only one CD is enough to install the basic system), it features a security and stability matched only by BSD and it can run on 11 different architectures. No other operating system and no other GNU/Linux distribution can offer anything in the same league. Martin F. Krafft explains this seeming miracle with clarity in a thorough and very well written book.

The books goes over what makes Debian different, what makes it unique, and what makes it possible. However, to fully understand the argument a reader does need to have at least a basic understanding of GNU/Linux, and if not - reading a book such as "The Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Bible" or even a more general, non-Debian specific, introduction to GNU/Linux might be a prerequisite. For those with already a basic understanding of GNU/Linux and interested in debian Krafft's book will be THE indispensable companion.

This is definitely the best written and most intelligent IT book I have ever read.
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The book provides a great deal of detailed information that is difficult to find other places. For that reason alone, it belongs on any Debian administrators bookshelf. However, it has some problems in the way the author orders things: He'll often list steps out of order, a cooking parody might read like this:

1. Add ingredient A to the mixture.

2. Add ingredient B.

3. Before you add ingredient B, be sure to let the mixture sit for 10 minutes!

4. By the way, ingredient B should be added before ingredient A for best results.

Here is are two short exerps as examples:

"When init is invoked by the kernel, it reads /etc/inittab and processes the file top to bottom, according to the rules described in inittab (5). Before anything else, init calls /etc/init.d/rcS..."

"...Before iterating through the files, the /etc/default/rcS file is sourced; the file parameterizes some aspects of the boot process. The files in /etc/rcS.d are actually just symlinks to corresponding files in /etc/init.d"

This kind of writing makes it very unclear what the actual process order is, to readers not already familiar with it.

In places he also states, in a 'by the way' style, critical information you could have used half a chapter ago. In other places he'll give you just enough information on a topic to get yourself into trouble only to inform you that "we'll cover this in a later chapter." While some of this is to be expected, it happens quite frequently.

The book packs a great deal of useful information, if you have the patience to break it down and re-construct it into a more logical order or are already familiar with the topics being covered. Due to these shortcomings, the book reads extremely slowly; Don't expect to whip through it in a week.

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