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Customer Review

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book to read if you know Linux or Unix and want to know Debian, January 20, 2006
This review is from: The Debian System: Concepts and Techniques (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. 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!
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