69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
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.
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2006
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. When necessary he compares Debian tools or syntax to other Linux distributions, such as a chart on pp 200-201 on apt, yum, up2date, and urpmi. The book also contains a large number of footnotes with URLs for more research and additional commentary.
The only weakness I found in TDS involved rough editing. Krafft has a tendency to use the phrase "a software" repeatedly. Some parts of the book (e.g., the bottom of p 299) are mis-set. These are minor errors that can be fixed in a second printing. Keep in mind that it helps to not have TDS as your sole source of Linux experience. I believe new Linux users would not be able to navigate TDS' waters. For that crowd I recommend Wiley's "Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Bible."
It is fair to say that Krafft's book has helped me decide to stay with Debian for systems that need to run Linux. I am confident that I can return to TDS when I need to solve problems, and be armed with a variety of options for doing so. I would love to see an equivalent book for FreeBSD!
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2005
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.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2006
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.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2007
Have been utilizing Linux for +5 years- primarily main-line distros with an "RPM-based" flavor. My continued favorite and primary distro is Mandriva, which I've used solidly through multiple releases. In my quest for options/alternatives I have reviewed, installed and used: Fedora-Red Hat, Knoppix, OpenSuse-Suse, Libranet, Gentoo, and Debian (Sarge). Kept coming back to Mandriva.
However, of late have really committed to opening up and expanding my Linux capabilities and adopting an optional Linux Distro. After much thought and assessment- ideal choice was Debian and it's recent release of Etch. Next step was what "public" reference books were available and recommended. Obvious choice was Kraft's "Debian System".
After acquiring and reading- concurrent with an actual on-going install of Debian Etch my assessments are:
1. Good overall intro and background on Debian: philosophies, intents, goals, and charters.
2. OK background and data on the "Debian-specific" environment aspects. Although, some items are getting a bit dated, and some areas not covered as in-depth as they should be: wireless, consistent install methods, system configuration options, XOrg environments.
3. Kraft goes to great lengths to delve into the "Apt-get" areas of Debian with extensive study of dpkg features. However, little depth is given to the formally Debian-endorsed services of Aptitude (datedness of the book?).
4. Definitely more coverage and specifics on "Sources" management under Debian; with caveats and dangers of "mixed" environments (unstable, external resources..).
5. Much more depth and clarification of Init/start-up uniqueness of Debian; Performance options, and recommended Debian "sensitive" software options for consideration
6. Additional coverage should be given to Kernel aspects, unique module-assistant aspects of Debian, and multi-Kernel environments for those wishing to pursue advanced configuration options.
Overall, a comprehensive and multi-faceted tome on the Debian environnment; which definitely needs some updating, refocusing, and inclusion of new materials. Finally- Debian is now my official "optional" distro and a great choice! A distro which I intend to use and support for a great many years..
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2006
This book has so far proven 80% good for me as an intermediate experienced Debian user, I work with Debian GNU w/Linux servers on a daily basis, I started in the Potato/Woody times, so there was a few new things in Sarge I didnt know that this book gave me some aha's about. Although, at this time (02/2006) the book is aging as it was published before Sarge became stable, I hope they will make another release focusing on the newer stuff going forward.
I believe this book is the perfect book for anyone switching from another GNU w/Linux distro to Debian GNU w/Linux (Very little Hurd info), for me it is the most valuable on things like working with X and the advanced details of the packing system and how to Debianize (or GNU'ify) your own software.
It also introduces you very well to the Debian community and development process.
Personally I would like to see a bit less beginner stuff, little less "how to install" stuff, and more on the corporate side of things like managing multiple systems and automating stuff without breaking other stuff. I think it would be a good idea to split it in two or three, the beginners/basics stuff, perhaps one devoted to using X (and the X apps) on Debian, and one on the more advanced topics...
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2006
This book truly rocks. It's aimed at intermediate to advanced users (I'm in the upper tier of "intermediate") and it's exclusively devoted to Debian. Debian isn't very well covered in books, but this is the consummate Debian reference. It's got a lot of good basic Linux stuff (but then Debian is a Linux distribution).
And of course, Debian. This book has lots of Debian-specific stuff that I found most helpful. I've been using both Debian Sid and Ubuntu (what ever the current version is at any given time time). Ubuntu is based on Debian so this book is just as valuable to Ubuntu users as well.
This is probably the single best Linux book I own. It's actually getting dog eared (unlike the others). If you're comfortable with Debian or any Debian-based Linux distro, this is the book for you! You'll learn a lot more.
I can't recommend it enough.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2007
If you think you are a Debian user, you should read this book. It will show you how to do things the Debian (the right) way. If you are looking for a how-to book, this isn't what you should be reading. And author is clear about it.
For existing Debian users, this is a must. This book can convert you from user to power user, and if you are serious about Debian, read it. After you read it you will often return to it for reference.
If you want to become a Debian user, I would recommend reading a copy of "Hands on Debian Guide" (which is recommended in this book also). Since the website it was on seems to be gone off-line, you can try to contact the author docelic@(nospam)hcoop.net.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2007
I am not a sys admin by profession. My computer at home is running debian testing (which is currently "etch"). If one runs their own *nix computer, they have become a sys admin, like it or not. I would rate myself as a novice sys admin, and mediocre at best.
This book covers the nuts and bolts of the debian system. As other reviewers have mentioned before me, it does not cover how to set-up your apache server, or how to write good bash scripts. It just covers the specific parts of debian which make it unique from other distros. Krafft is not a zealot. He compliments other package systems; for example he is frank in his admiration for the robustness of rpm.
I read this book cover to cover, and it gave me the knowledge and confidence I needed to give up on dual booting a microsoft OS, or a more user friendly *nix distro.
It is a good reference book. For example, recently, I filled up a partition. It was my /var partition, and it was related to the apt package system, (most likely my fault, as I'm a poor administrator). So instead of blowing out troublesome sub-directory, (while hoping that I'm not breaking something), I grabbed this book off the shelf, and quickly found the proper solution. It has a detailed table of contents, a decent index, and a long appendix which is divided into six sections.
To conclude, I'm trying to make two points about this book. First, it is still relevant w/the "etch" release. Second, if you're a novice administrator of a debian-based system, this book is very useful.
22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2005
This is a solid walkthrough of the Debian system. Topics are covered a little unevenly. For example, the package system is given extensive coverage, but basic shell work is given little coverage at all. I like it, but it's a take no prisoners level book. You really need to know about the basics of Unix before you get this one.