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75 of 80 people found the following review helpful
Ubuntu is a predominantly desktop-oriented Linux distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux. Its name comes from the South African concept of ubuntu-- which is roughly, "humanity towards others". The first release of Ubuntu, the Warty Warthog, was released in autumn 2004, and each release has maintained a level of usability that makes it a joy to use. This book is like all others I have encountered in this series - it has something for every level of user from beginner to expert. You can read it from beginning to end or pick and choose the parts you are interested in. My favorite section was the one on security, since there is a real lack of information on that subject as it pertains to Ubuntu. I see no table of contents is shown, so I review this book in the context of the table of contents:

1. Getting Started
This chapter shows you how to get started with Ubuntu including all of the information you need to install Ubuntu on your system, how to get started with the Linux command line, set up your printer, file a bug report, and more.
1. Test-Drive Ubuntu
2. Get Help
3. Make Live CD Data Persistent
4. Customize the Ubuntu Live CD
5. Install Ubuntu
6. Dual-Boot Ubuntu and Windows
7. Move Your Windows Data to Ubuntu
8. Install Ubuntu on a Mac
9. Set Up Your Printer
10. Install Ubuntu on an External Drive
11. Install from a Network Boot Server
12. Submit a Bug Report
13. Use the Command Line
14. Get Productive with Applications

2. The Linux Desktop
This chapter helps you work with the GNOME and KDE desktop environments for Linux, and also helps you find out about a few others that are out there. You'll also learn how to set up Java, how to work with files on remote computers, and how to get Ubuntu communicating to handheld devices. To me, the most useful tip was the one on creating PDF files by using the print command from any application in Ubuntu.
15. Get Under the Hood of the GNOME Desktop
16. Tweak the KDE Desktop
17. Switch to a Lighter Window Manager
18. Install Java
19. Search Your Computer
20. Access Remote Filesystems
21. Tweak Your Desktop Like a Pro
22. Sync Your Palm PDA
23. Sync Your Pocket PC
24. Customize the Right-Click Contextual Menu
25. Download and Share Files with the Best P2P Software
26. Make Your Own PDFs
27. Blog with Ubuntu

3. Multimedia
This chapter shows how to play music and movies. You'll learn how to play nearly any kind of audio and video, and burn files, music, and movies to optical discs.
28. Install Multimedia Plug-ins
29. Watch Videos
30. Play DVDs
31. Buy Songs at the iTunes Music Store
32. Get a Grip on CD Ripping
33. Burn CDs and DVDs
34. Automate Audio CD Burning
35. Rip and Encode DVDs
36. Create a Video DVD
37. Connect to a Digital Camera

4. Mobile Ubuntu
This chapter shows how to work with different wireless cards. You'll also learn how to save energy and install add-on cards. The most interesting tip in this chapter explains how have your laptop settings roam with your network. This is very useful for Ubuntu users on the move.
39. Hibernate Your Laptop
40. Prolong Your Battery Life
41. Get Proprietary Wireless Cards Working
42. Roam Wirelessly
43. Make Laptop Settings Roam with Your Network
44. Make Bluetooth Connections
45. Expand Your Laptop
46. Hotswap Your Laptop's Optical Drive

5. X11
Shows how to customize X11, the X Windows System, which is the windowing system that is behind KDE and GNOME. You'll learn how to interface to your mouse and keyboard, and also how to get X11 configured in relation to your graphics card.
47. Configure Multibutton Mice
48. Enable Your Multimedia Keyboard
49. Configure a Touchpad
50. Connect Multiple Displays
51. Change the Ubuntu Splash Screen
52. Enable 3-D Video Acceleration
53. Make Your Fonts Pretty

6. Package Management
This chapter shows you how to work with all of the packages that come with the distribution. It talks about installation techniques, finding new packages, and finally creating your own packages.
54. Manage Packages from the Command Line
55. Manage Packages with Synaptic
56. Manage Packages with Adept
57. Install and Remove Standalone Files
58. Search for Packages from the Command Line
59. Install Software from Source
60. Modify the List of Package Repositories
61. Cache Packages Locally with Apt-cacher
62. Create an Ubuntu Package
63. Compile a Source Package
64. Convert Non-Ubuntu Packages
65. Create Your Own Package Repository
66. Convert Debian to Ubuntu

7. Security
You'll learn about the "sudo" command, intrusion detection and prevention, and safeguarding data via encryption.
67. Limit Permissions with sudo
68. Manage Security Updates
69. Protect Your Network with a Firewall
70. Use an Encrypted Filesystem to Protect Your Data
71. Encrypt Your Email and Important Files
72. Surf the Web Anonymously
73. Keep Windows Malware off Your System

8. Administration
This talks about basic system administration which includes adding users, altering the system configuration, and doing backups, among other tasks. One of the most interesting tips in this section was how to create videos that capture what is done on the desktop which can then be shared with others when troubleshooting a particular problem.
74. Edit Configuration Files
75. Manage Users and Groups
76. Mount Any Filesystem
77. Control Startup Services
78. Build Kernels the Ubuntu Way
79. Back Up Your System
80. Clone an Installation
81. Rescue an Unbootable System
82. Check the Captain's Log
83. Mount Removable Devices with Persistent Names
84. Mount Remote Directories Securely and Easily
85. Make Videos of Your Tech-Support Questions
86. Synchronize Files Across Machines

9. Virtualization and Emulation
This chapter shows you how to run Ubuntu inside of other operating systems, and other operating systems inside of Ubuntu.
87. Run Windows Applications
88. Play Windows Games
89. Run Ubuntu Inside Windows
90. Use Xen to Host Virtual Machines
91. Create an Ubuntu/Xen Virtual Machine
92. Split Your Machine's Personality

10. Small Office/Home Office Server
Ubuntu can be the basis of a server. Thus, this chapter teaches basic server installation plus installing network services such as DNS, mail, Apache, and more.
93. Install and Configure an Ubuntu Server
94. Build a File Server
95. Administer Your Server Remotely
96. Build a Web Server
97. Build an Email Server
98. Build a Caching Proxy Server
99. Build a DHCP Server
100. Build a Domain Name Server
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2007
I wrote this review originally for the Tucson Computer Society Magazine in October 2006. Since then I used many hacks successfully.

Getting access non-free programs requires changing the repository (hack #60).

Installing Java (hack #18) went smoothly and exactly as stated using apt-get. This is great as several people on the mailing list reported problems doing this. I felt this might be an ordeal, but it was easy.

Multimedia plug-ins (hack #28) required some extra searching as some packages were no longer in the repositories and substitutes had to be found. Some extra work was required but that's Linux. Many of the hacks were this way.

Package management (hacks #54-#66) were very helpful not only in Ubuntu but with Debian. Several more of the hacks apply to other Linux distributions as well as Ubuntu.

All-in-all, the more I use this book, the more valuable it becomes.


The back cover of UBUNTU HACKS states the book is "your one-stop source for all of the community knowledge you need to get the most out of Ubuntu," an eye-catching statement. I sure need some of this knowledge. Although the title is UBUNTU HACKS and deals with Ubuntu and GNOME desktop, most hacks apply to other Ubuntu family members. I find this helpful as I use Kubuntu with KDE instead of Ubuntu.

I experimented with Ubuntu/Kubuntu Linux distributions since Ubuntu 5.04 released April, 2005 (Ubuntu versions are numbered by the year and month of release). Ubuntu is the original member of a family of Linux distributions consisting of Ubuntu, Kubuntu, XUbuntu, and EdUbuntu.

The picture of the tuning fork on the front cover is dramatic. The book, 6" wide by 9" tall by 1" thick, contains about 450 pages. The book is convenient to carry to waiting rooms where I usually have time to read and study at least one hack.

Jonathan Oxer, an Australian, has an off-beat sense of humor making the book entertaining and interesting as well as helpful. Instead of using the normal triangle in the margin to denote a warning, he uses a screw. Effective and humorous.

UBUNTU HACKS has ten chapters containing 100 hacks or user tips. The hacks range from obtaining a live/installation CD (download from the Internet, copy from a friend or have a copy mailed free) through setting up a full home/office server.

The Preface contains a brief history of Ubuntu. Although the Ubuntu distribution is about two years old, it is usually number one at Distrowatch. I checked (Sept. 4, 2006) and in the past month Ubuntu, #1, was downloaded 2430 times while #2, openSUSE, was downloaded 1832.

Chapter One, Getting Started (Hacks 1-14), discusses obtaining and using the live CD in great detail. The live CD allows exploring Ubuntu (Ubuntu and Kubuntu, to my knowledge, are the only family members with live CDs) without installation. It is possible to try programs and study Linux without endangering your computer's existing operating system. Changes to the live CD system can be made to a thumb drive. Live CDs are great places to learn and experiment. If you decide to install the operating system, it is only necessary to click the desktop install button and answer a few simple questions. The changes made on the thumb drive can be added to the new installation. Installation is covered in this chapter in great detail. Live CDs can also be used to repair a "broken" system.

I ordered the live CD for Kubuntu. It shipped free. Following the author's instructions, I easily downloaded the Ubuntu ISO and burned the CD (using Windows 2000). I played with Ubuntu on the live CD for a few days. Then I installed Ubuntu 6.06 from the live CD on a partition of the drive already containing Kubuntu 6.06. I wanted to comparison Ubuntu and Kubuntu and this seemed like the best way. Both versions are installed in 9 GB partitions on a PII 400 with 1 GB memory connected to the Internet via Qwest DSL.

Booting the live CD presents an option to check the CD. I checked both the Kubuntu and Ubuntu CDs. Both showed an error but the live CD and installation worked.

This chapter explains multi-booting with Windows or another operating system. The multi-boot worked seamlessly. Windows 2000 and Kubuntu 6.06 were on this computer before and multi-boot worked with them as well. I installed Ubuntu, Kubuntu and XUbuntu previously on various computers and knew what to expect. The multi-boot system allows working with Windows while learning and tuning Ubuntu. Setting up multi-booting is scary at first but carefully following instructions has not led to any problems yet.

Chapter One includes instructions to create a customized live CD; this requires quite a bit of free hard disk space for the process. Migration of Windows data to Ubuntu is explained. There is a very brief but helpful introduction to use of the command line; the command line is applied throughout the book. A brief discussion of some included programs follows. There is extensive information to find help on the Internet and within Ubuntu. I find the Kubuntu mailing list referred to very helpful.

Chapter Two, "The Linux Desktop" (Hacks 15-27), briefly covers setting up and using Linux desktops. GNOME and KDE, the two main and most Windows-like and Macintosh-like Linux desktops are the main topics of discussion. Some interesting older and less resource intensive window management systems get brief coverage. These window managers allow real hands-on customization of the Linux environment. Detailed instructions tell how to download and install plug-ins. Syncing a Palm PC and Pocket PC are included in this section.

The interoperability of GNOME and KDE programs is discussed. It is possible to install both GNOME and KDE on the same partition along with several other Window managers and switch as you wish. I tried this with an early installation of Ubuntu/Kubuntu. There were so many menu items I got lost. This time I installed some favorite KDE programs in Ubuntu. The programs work well.

Chapter Three, "Multimedia" (Hacks 28-37), contains detailed information on installing multimedia plug-ins. This chapter has extensive information on CDs, DVDs and digital cameras.

Chapter Four, "Mobile Ubuntu" (Hacks 38-46), tells how to set up a laptop computer. It discusses sleep, hibernate and extending battery life. The chapter contains hacks on setting up and using wireless including cards not directly supported by Linux. I haven't had a chance to try this yet.

Chapter Five, "X11" (Hacks 47-53), tells how to customize the X Window System. X Windows is where input (mouse, touch-pad, keyboard) and output (video card, monitor) configuration is done.

Most configuration happens automatically during setup. Tweaking X11 configuration tunes performance, sometimes significantly. It could require extra effort to configure non-standard hardware but this might be the only way to accomplish this. For various reasons, some political, a driver or optimum driver sometimes is not included in the distribution but can be found elsewhere.

Chapter Six, "Package Management" (Hacks 54-66), explains several methods to add and remove programs from your computer. A great advantage of Linux is the ability to find and easily download a program to fit your needs.

There are several choices of web browsers, text editors, graphics and many other programs available with a few mouse clicks or a command line entry. If a program does not meet your expectations, remove it and add another. No cost, no time shopping for the right program; just reach out and grab it.

Repositories, the places where packages live on the Internet, are explained clearly and in detail. The section on apt-get, the command line Debian based package manager, is very clear and complete. I find this hack helpful for a SPARC I run under Debian as well as for Ubuntu.

Graphical package managers are explained in detail. Retrieving and installing packages from repositories other than official ones receives thorough coverage. Compiling packages from source code is discussed. Possible problems with package installation and solutions to these problems are presented. Cautions are presented and explained - with the accompanying screw as a reminder.

Chapter Seven, "Security" (Hacks 67-73), explains Linux's security system. I find the Linux security system is often irritating but I appreciate the safety it provides. There are very few Linux viruses. The main danger to my Linux system is the "keyboard virus", or me, which the security system controls and limits.

Chapter Eight, "Administration" (Hacks 74-86), delves into maintenance and tuning the file-system and computer environment. Control of who can and can't do what is set by the administrator.

Access to other file-systems such as a Windows partition on your computer or a network computer is set by the administrator. Downloading and installing or removing packages is the province of the administrator. The administrator controls how the computer starts and fixes it if it does not. (In my experience, the administrator often breaks it.) Building a custom kernel is an administrative duty. Scheduling and performing backups and recovering the system are administrative duties. These and other administrative duties are explained in detail.

Linux log files are explained here. The explanations of the various log files in UBUNTU HACKS show you where to look for answers. Log files tell, in detail, what happened on the system. Besides being the first place to look for problems, the log files are a necessity to show someone on line how to get help.

Chapter Nine, "Virtualization and Emulation" (Hacks 87-92), details running Windows programs under Linux or Linux programs under Windows. It discusses several approaches to this, some free and some commercial.

Chapter Ten, "Small Office/Home Office Server" (Hacks 93-100), has instructions on building many types of servers from the Ubuntu distribution. Ubuntu is based on Debian and Debian has a well-deserved reputation as "the" server distribution. Anything that can be done with a commercial server operating system can be done with Ubuntu with an investment of time instead of money. File sharing and peripheral sharing with Windows computers on your home network are covered. Logging into your computer with another computer is detailed.

I like this book for several reasons. Kubuntu is the first Linux distribution I loaded easily and used immediately. There were no acronym loaded questions to answer during install. I was web surfing and chatting with friends on line and checking e-mail shortly after completing installation.

Previous investigation into making a live CD for testing purposes left me confused and muttering. The process is very understandable in UBUNTU HACKS.

The author explains his hacks in great detail. He takes you from getting the necessary program, through using it in a step by step manner. Besides showing a command and explaining syntax, he shows what to expect on the screen as a result of the command. That makes me feel more confident as things happen. I have the confidence to try things that seemed too complex without this book. I feel I can follow his instructions and have an understanding of the reasons and processes involved.

A problem with Linux is the wealth of programs making locating the right program for the job difficult. Jonathan Oxer's approach cuts through much of this confusion.

Although Linux includes references to each program in the form of man pages and info pages, these are often written by programmers for programmers. The programs often have several options. Sometimes these pages are confusing and obscure. Often they are hundreds of lines long and it is difficult to find needed information. The same is true of many Internet sites. The author writes for the user in a clear and concise manner.

Although written expressly for Ubuntu and, to a slightly lesser extent, Kubuntu, there are several helpful general Linux tips. I got solutions to problems I am researching for other systems.

This book is written for the "Dapper Drake" release. This is the distribution the Ubuntu organization says will be supported for five years. As Dapper Drake was released in June of this year, it means the book will not soon be obsolete. It will outlast some of my computers, especially the one I have Ubuntu/Kubuntu on.

UBUNTU HACKS is a good book for beginning to intermediate users, the only level I can comment on with my present skills. The hacks range from simple to very complex but all seem doable by a patient and careful user. This is not the book to make you a Linux guru. It will help do interesting things with Ubuntu and make use of some of Ubuntu's available power. As my skills with Ubuntu grow, this book will be used often. It is a good addition to my growing Linux library.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
As a new Ubuntu linux user (about 1 year experience) I found this book to be extremely useful.

I like the way that is setup with 100 hacks so that you can skip to the hack (solution) that you are looking for without reading the whole book. The hacks are also linked like dependencies on a package install so that if you are trying to get hack #25 to work but you skipped ahead to get there, the book tells me "hey, you need to do hack #18 for this work." That is extremely useful for newbies like me.

I also like how each hack has one of 3 difficulty ratings: beginner, moderate, or expert. It keeps me from getting in over my head. It would also be useful to experts because they could skip over the beginner hacks and get to the hacks of moderate and expert difficulty.

I wish that the book came with an Ubuntu CD and a .pdf or ebook version.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Not surprisingly, this is another lovely addition to the successful 'Hacks' series.

Like the others, 'Ubuntu Hacks' consists of a series of pointers on how to perform useful and usually non-trivial tasks ranging from beginner level through to expert. As you would expect novice users can get more from the book than experienced users, but there is still likely to be plenty to interest people of any skill level.

This book does not suffer from too broad a topic range, as several from the series do. Since it limits coverage to using the Ubuntu Linux distribution, it reduces the number of topics that are not relevant. It is also a very good source for finding out what else is available, so you gain from not only what is presented directly but will be able to use these to accelerate your own knowledge.

This book highlights one of the problems with the 'Hacks' series. 'Ubuntu Hacks' is noticeably larger than other books I have seen from the series, and while the volume is necessary to cover some of the advanced topics I felt that limiting the book to one hundred hacks made some entries very long indeed.

Overall it is a great book, particularly for those of beginner to intermediate level. You can learn Ubuntu by accident, or you can get a real head start using this book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Ubuntu Hacks goes beyond the basic Ubuntu features to add additional functionality that can be added with a little help from an experienced Linux user. The reader can pick and choose from 100 Hacks those that meet his needs. Following are some hacks I found particularly useful.
Hack #7: Move Windows data to Ubuntu, including email files, bookmarks and various documents.
Hack #10: Install Ubuntu on an external drive. Useful if you want to run both Windows and Ubuntu on your computer but the hard drive is too small to hold both.
Hack #15: the Gnome Configuration Editor. Ubuntu uses the Gnome windows user interface that is not as easily tweaked as the newer KDE interface. This hack describes a hidden Gnome editor that allows extensive modification of the desktop environment.
Hack#18: Install Java. Under license from Sun Microsystems, Java is shipped as part of the distribution but must be separately installed by the user. Many applications need Java, so it is good to have it on board.
Hack #41: Get proprietary wireless cards working. This is a tricky one, depending on a program that places the MS Windows drivers in a Linux "wrapper." My Netgear card worked fine with Ubuntu, but others might need this trick.
Hack #64: Convert non-Ubuntu packages. Most Linux distributions "package" applications with everything needed to install them. Ubuntu uses Debian packages with the DEB extension, especially adapted for use with Ubuntu. Another popular format is RPM used by Red Hat and Fedora. There are methods to convert those packages, for instance if you want to install a Red Hat program in Ubuntu.
Hack #69: Install a firewall. Linux is much more secure than Windows, not least because it is not widely used on the desktop and therefore a less attractive target for miscreants. Still, for better security it pays to protect a network with a firewall. A hardware router will usually do an effective job, but this hack shows how to install a software firewall as well.
Hack #81: Rescue an unbootable system. A helpful discussion of the various ways to get things working again.
Hack #87: Run MS Windows applications in Linux. "Wine" is the main free program used to provide a box in which Windows applications can run. It is notoriously unreliable, but you can get lucky. This hack shows how to install and configure Wine and use it to run Adobe Photoshop 6.0. I don't have Photoshop and had no success trying to install Adobe Photoshop Elements. Yet, the authors claim that Photoshop runs faster in Wine than in MS Windows. The next hack also mentions a better, but commercial version of Wine called Cedega that specializes in running Windows games. It costs $5 per month.
Hack #88: DOSBox. This program provides a DOS environment in which to run some of those old DOS applications we remember fondly. I once wrote a DOS program to solve the Jumble and Scramble puzzles in the newspapers. To my delight it works just fine in the DOSBox. The book also references [...], a Web site that archives all kinds of old DOS games, many of which work just fine.
The final Hacks show how to set up Linux servers, beyond my limits of interest or capability.

This sampling of hacks illustrates the broad range of subjects covered. Anyone using Ubuntu who wants to go beyond the basics will be well served by this book. Highly recommended.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2007
I expected a lot more from this book, since it is part of the "Hacks" series, and coming from O'Reilly, I expected it to be a little more interesting. But there is not much in here that cannot be found in the official Ubuntu documentation on their site, or in the community wiki, also on that site. There are a few hacks that are pretty neat, like building your own version of the live-cd, keeping settings for live sessions in flash memory, and buying iTunes music, but the there is stuff like "How to play DVDs," or "Get productive with applications." Also, as a warning, some of the hacks are more geared toward the Ubuntu distribution, rather than the KDE desktop, Kubuntu. It doesn't matter that much, since they are so similar, but somethings don't translate perfectly. For instance, if you are running Kubuntu and want to use the search-your-computer hack, it uses beagle, which is a GNOME app and requires installation of GNOME dependencies which can take up a lot space on top of KDE's own.

I probably should have researched the book more, but if someone else is looking at this for more exciting, technical, and in-depth hacks that detail getting the most out of Ubuntu, look elsewhere. For beginners who want a print manual that is clear, well laid out, and details ways to use this excellent OS, it is spot on. I am glad I bought it, but I am continuing to shop for more hardcore Linux hacks.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2006
I'm a beginner in the Linux world and this book have exactly what I was looking for. You don't need to read all the book, just choose the hack you want and you will have the answer.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2008
Information presented is solid for an older distribution, but is not relevant for v8.04. Ubuntu has made significant changes in the installation , partitioning, and setup areas - none of which are covered in this version of Ubuntu Hacks. Most serious is the omission of problems using the partition manager with ntfs partitions.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2006
This book has been invaluable to me. I have attempted to use Linux several times. I've tried Mandrake, RedHat, and some other smaller incarnations. I finally tried Ubuntu with much success. I like the whole Ubuntu/Debian philosophy. Since Ubuntu only includes open source software there are things you will be missing after you install it. This book helps you fill in the missing pieces. It also tells you how to customize the OS to your liking. The biggest things for me was playing DVDs and other media, connecting and synchronizing my PDA, wireless and multiple displays.

Buy this book. Unless you are an absolute expert you will find this book useful!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2007
Because this Web site already contains quite a few very detailed reviews of Ubuntu Hacks, I'm going to provide a very brief synopsis of why I found the book useful.

I've been running Ubuntu Linux as my primary operating system for a bit less than three months. There've been a few teeth-gnashing, table-pounding "Linux moments", but on the whole Ubuntu's installability, basic configurability, and usability are all superior to other Linux distributions I've tried and abandoned over the past three or so years.

But, like a lot of people I've run Windows most of the time. That means there's bound to be a lot about Linux in general, and Ubuntu in particular, that I don't know. This is where Ubuntu Hacks provides useful and usable information that helped me "comfortabilize" Ubuntu.

The primary categories of information in Ubuntu Hacks are (a) adjusting stuff that's already there, and (b) installing new, useful stuff that's not part of a default installation. Between those two categories, Ubuntu Hacks will help a new Ubuntu user become more thoroughly oriented with his or her new Linux system. To cite but one example, Ubuntu Hacks enabled me to install and configure the free VMware Server that allows me to run a Windows virtual machine "under" Linux. This in turn is greatly reducing the number of times I need to boot into my dual-boot computer's Windows partition...

Finally, I'll add that over the past year or so I've cut *way* back on the number of technical books I'm buying. A book must provide me not only with information, but organize and present that information in a way that allows me to efficiently locate and apply it. Ubuntu Hacks fulfills that requirement.
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