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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2006
As its title implies, this book targets non-geeks: anyone who today

uses a computer, whether it be a windows machine or a mac, or linux.

I find the author is true to the book's audience, and its objectives.

Whether you just recently started using Ubuntu, or whether you're thinking

about making the switch, this book will help you.

The author's experience with computers, with Linux, and with Ubuntu

specifically really shows through. Although I'm a geek, and although

I've been using Ubuntu for approximately a year and a half, there were

still a number of things I learned from this book.

A practical book, easy to read. Also a quick read. You won't find yourself

spending an inordinate amount of time wading through the book. The book

invites you to your computer and to follow along and get things done in your

environment as you go through each chapter. Also, you're not forced into

having to follow the book sequentially. You can easily skip around to the

chapters that interest you. I like the broad coverage of many topics; many

go beyond strictly Ubuntu, and help you get the most out of your computer.

Some sample topics it covers include: installing and running business

applications, working with images, digital cameras, audio, your iPod, and

working with various media players.

So, this is a practical book, and it makes for an excellent companion on

your road to making the most of your Ubuntu desktop. Instead of having to

discover many applications the long, tedious way, you'll end up hitting the

ground running. You end up saving time.

Besides being a well-written, well-organized book, what is most important

to me is who the author is. Reading this book, the author's experience shows.

He knows what he's talking about; he's been using computers, Linux, and

Ubuntu for a while.

Finally, and importantly, this book is up to date. It covers the Dapper

Drake release of Ubuntu, which just came out in June 2006. I personally

have been a great fan of Ubuntu Linux. Many years ago I used windows. Then

I switched to Apple's MacOSX, which to me served as a great stepping stone

to Ubuntu. Come join the movement. :-)
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
This is perhaps one of the most fun Linux books I've had the pleasure of reading. It's called Ubuntu Linux For Non-Geeks by Rickford Grant, and the focus is on getting Ubuntu up and running, and *getting things done*. Quirky, comical, and best of all... practical.

Contents: Becoming a Penguinista; Wading and Diving; A New Place to Call Home; More Than Webbed Feet; Rounding Out the Bird; A Tidy Next; Dressing Up the Bird; Simple Kitten Ways; Dining on Tarballs, Binaries, Java, and Even RPMs; Gutenbird; Font Feathered Frenzy; Polyglot Penguins; Penguins Back at Work; Brush-Wielding Penguins; Tux Rocks; Pluggin' In the Penguin; Couch Penguins; Defending the Nest; Ubuntu Desktop CDs for AMD64 and PowerPC Users; Checking the Integrity of Downloaded ISOs; Resources; Index

As you can see from the chapter titles, there's a lot of tongue-in-cheek (beak?) humor that keeps the subject matter entertaining and approachable. He starts off with a quick history of Ubuntu Linux, as well as how to install it (both live CD and permanent). From there, he goes into the various areas where you live in Windows and shows the comparable software/configuration options in Ubuntu. If someone was completely at home in Windows but had never touched Linux, this would be all the book they'd need to make 80% or more of the transition. This goes both for manipulating the operating system (desktop settings, installing software, etc.) and using software for common tasks (such as OpenOffice.org to replace Office, GIMP to replace Windows-based graphical software, etc.). And with each chapter, there are a number of "projects" where he walks you through the installation and/or steps necessary to do what he just talked about. The book is written in an *extremely* conversational tone, so it's hard not to "hear" the author talking to you as you read. Great stuff...

I found this book useful in learning about the "best of breed" or "default" software used in the Ubuntu environment. For instance, there's XSane for scanning, gPhoto2 for digital camera work, etc. Normally I get a bit frustrated with Linux books that spend a majority of the pages talking about software that *runs* on Linux, not Linux itself. While this book does the same thing, it was far less intrusive than most. I think it's because it was all focused back on making the transition from daily use of Windows to daily use of Ubuntu. Regardless, it was a two-in-one deal... excellent tutorial information with very nice reference material on what you could/should be looking for...

As I continue my Ubuntu learning, this book will become pretty frayed, I think... I expect it to become a fast friend.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2006
Ubuntu for Non-Geeks is the next installment of Rickford Grant's crusade to bring the penguin to those who don't have the geek gene (or at least, don't think they do.) Like Linux Made Easy and Linux for Non-Geeks, this book centers more on the "how to do x,y,z" rather than theory.

It's typical Rickford Grant style, which I've come to love. It's easy to read, relate to, and follow along with. I didn't do most of the activities in the book, as my desktop environment isn't currently GNOME, but I could still easily grasp what Rickford was explaining and what he was trying to get the reader to accomplish.

Ubuntu is a distribution that lends itself to this type of book fairly well. A bit more geeky than Linux Made Easy (which features Xandros) and in most cases a bit less geeky than Linux for Non-Geeks, it's a great introduction to Linux for people who are comfortable with computers, but are not (yet) whizzes.

Topics build on each other, and are nicely laid out so that the reader isn't going backwards and forwards in the book trying to figure out how Grant makes an exercise work. The book starts out slow and easy (explaining Linux, the concept of Ubuntu, both as a software project and its original meaning, gratis versus libre, and hardware requirements).

He moves on to more detailed, advanced topics, like the Nautilus file manager, how to burn CD and DVDs, connecting to and surfing the internet, installing packages using Synaptic (Synaptic, by the way, is my favorite package management software, ever). He covers fluffy, pretty things like customizations and changing the look and feel of the desktop. He covers (briefly, and non-threateningly, so put away the valium) the command line.

The beauty of Linux is that you can about do anything with it right out of the box. Grant doesn't waste the opportunity to get you up and fully functional. From Open Office and Abiword for productivity, to GIMP and photo editing, to watching and listening multimedia files and hooking up your iPod, Grant is a master at hitting the pulse of what people actually do with their computers.

This is another wonderful offering by Rickford Grant and No Starch Press.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2007
I've been trying to learn Linux so I don't have to ever upgrade to Microsoft Vista. This book has been quite fun and useful to read. I'm only a few chapters into it, and the author has made learning Linux fun, and not as scary as I thought could be when I first thought about changing OS's. There's always going to be a learning curve with whatever operating system one migrates to, whether it be MS, or Macs, Solaris, Linux, and it just takes time to figure out what all the quirks are and how to make things easy for yourself. Don't expect to know this all in a day, or even a week. It could take a few months to be really comfortable with how things are set up in Ubuntu (or whatever Linux distro one decides to go with)

The book is written in easy to understand language (for a non-geek like me, is great!), and starts out with how to install it, and how to personalize the desktop, along with a few configuring of some of the hardware.

The book has not been able to answer all my questions (but I knew it wouldn't), such as graphic card drivers, or why I was unable to mount one of my drives, if there's a way to read/write NTFS. But, he does give a bunch of information to go in case you do have questions, which has come in very handy so I can correct the problems I was having.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2007
I've been involved in computers since 1970, first mainframes then the first "portables" that operated on CPM operating system. Still, it wasn't until BG forced Windows Vista down my throat that I finally began looking at an alternative in earnest. Ubuntu (a great alternative to Windows) for non Geeks started off as a really great book on getting Linux up and running on my lap-top. Then beginning with chapter 8 things began going down hill. The projects for using terminal mode did not work. Any of them. Although I prided myself with the ability to effectively use DOS when it was the thing, I was unable to get my hands around the terminal commands.
Then Chapter 9 and getting the Java Runtime Environment. Another failure. And here the author just assumes that everything is going swell and therefore makes no allowances for the event that things don't. Therefore there is nothing to help find the problem of why it doesn't work, or trouble shooting suggestions.
I haven't gotten beyond Chapter 9. My excitement and joy of progressing was shattered by my results of chapters 8 & 9. I will undoubtedly continue on, but "haven't gotten around to it".
Be that as it may, I still recommend the purchase of the book to get started with. And I highly recommend dumping Windows for Ubuntu. Even if I never "get around to it" in finishing up Ubuntu for Non-Geeks, it got me started and I'm using Ubuntu now more than Windows. I am running a dual-boot system and I hope and look forward to wiping Windows off my computer soon.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2007
The author has written a book that actually will help the newbie to Ubuntu, and maybe any Linux distro, get things done, rather than trying to dazzle the newbie with the big words and technotalk "computer experts" dearly love to use. I've got a shelf full of Linux books acquired over the past half-dozen or so years, and this is the only one I've gone all the way through, highlighting along the way, and then come back to work through many of the projects. I think the author really CARES about teaching the newbie how to ease into Linux, get things done, build confidence, and come out of the experience feeling good.

To any newbie I would say "buy this one first and save your sanity". Worry about the rest of the Linux books later. You'll be glad you did -- I'm sure of it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is Grant's third book about user-friendly Linux desktop distributions, following Linux For Non-Geeks about the Fedora distribution and Linux Made Easy covering the Xandros distribution. As one might expect, he gets better with each book.

The first two-thirds of the book cover the all-important aspects of installing and using the Ubuntu operating system. An early chapter provides a guide to the highly personalizable Gnome windows interface, followed by a chapter on connecting to the Internet and using browsers and email programs.

The next chapter, covering downloading and installing programs, is possibly the most important and helpful in the book. Adding new programs downloaded from the Internet can be endlessly frustrating.

Ubuntu uses Synaptic to effortlessly locate and install programs contained in Debian Packages. The book illustrates the procedures in great detail. By default, Synaptic is set up to find only applications specifically tuned to work in Ubuntu. There are many more Debian packages available, however, that most likely will work just fine. The book shows the simple, but non-intuitive, few steps needed to add those other programs to the availability list.

A later chapter goes into detail about installing programs that are not available as Debian packages, including Red Hat packages (RPMs), binaries and Tarballs. Other useful topics are using the file system, some command line procedures, connecting peripherals, and summaries of popular Open Source programs for office applications, image editing, and audio-video applications.

The book provides essential help in making the most of the Ubuntu distribution, even for those already familiar with other Linux distributions. It is written in an easy style with many useful examples. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2007
This book is simplistic and goes step by step. Please understand, it will try to give you a basic/intermediate understanding of Ubuntu and try to teach some things about Linux. It is not trying to teach you Linux itself. Just Ubuntu...a particular 'flavor' of Linux.

I agree with a previous review that this book could have used more pictures, diagrams, visuals. Technical direction without pictures is cruel to the geekiest of people. So, that is why I gave it 4 stars. Also, this book does not go deeply enough into setting up, backing up and protecting your partitions and files. Things that are crucial to know because if done properly, can save you hours of pain! Something Windows users are very familiar with and trying to escape.

Tired of the restrictions and lack of performance from Windows? Tired of needing new, powerful hardware to satisfy Windows' bloated code? Tired of paying money for extra software like cd/dvd burning tools, backup software, MP3 ripping and burning, tired of shelling out $250 to $600 for Microsoft's Office Suite? Come over to Linux!! No digital rights management or privacy invading issues, no network connection restrictions, no slow degraded performance due to not having a brand new computer!!

Yes, it takes time to learn and will require some effort on your part...but the rewards are well worth it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2007
Linux is an excellent operating system, but it is different from the Windows OS that most users are accustomed to. Recently I decided to take the plunge and learn about it. Although I could have searched the web for the information in this book, and download the CD image for free also. I decided to buy this book instead.

So with the enclosed CD and a free older computer, I was off and swimming with the penguins. I think the money was well spent, as my time is worth something and I jump-started my Linux knowledge faster than the school of hard knocks and web searching.

I found the book to be an easy read, and I liked its project centric nature. While I was doing the projects and learning, I was also resolving common issues a new Linux user encounters. A case in point is that Linux doesn't play MP3 format files as it is shipped, but this is easily resolved using one of the projects in this book. In addition, Linux can run many Windows programs using a compatibility layer that is easily installed using another project.

When I was done I gave the computer to my children. They like it, as there are high quality free educational games available for Linux. In addition many Windows games work as well which was a pleasant surprise.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2006
I was not expecting the book to be this basic. I've been a windows user all of my life and am pretty solid navigating my way around. I'm no system administrator, but I know enough to tweak windows to my liking a little bit. This Ubuntu book takes what would seem like basic, no-brainer tasks and explains them. I feel like I could have figured most of the things that this book has taught me just by playing with the system. I still give this book a good rating because it was my own dumb fault for not exploring this book enough before I bought it.

If you are uncomfortable with computers. Buy this book. If you feel comfortable with computers and have a good bit of logic in your brain, go with Ubuntu Unleashed. Unleashed will help with more troubleshooting issues and enable you to customize Ubuntu to your liking while still touching on the basics of Ubuntu.
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