The author has done a lot of work to introduce the Linux GUI to absolute beginners. For that, he deserves high marks, since on hearing the word Linux, most people would run scared! He shows that in the graphical environment, Linux is, for the most part, as accessible as the other two most used operating systems. He demonstrates that the Linux GUI is not some complicated, "need to know how to program", difficult to master experience (ok you get the point).
When I first started using Linux (Ubuntu) in 2009, my first reaction was that the desktop was not such a strange place to work. Indeed, with a couple of small tweaks, it could look and feel a lot like the Windows system I had been used to. Since then, I have experimented with several different Linux distributions and ended up with a small, fast, customizable and easy to use version called Puppy. Despite the name difference and the look of the first screen to come on at boot up, all of these Linux systems are at heart, essentially the same. Thanks to the thousands of creative developers out there who generously give of their time and wisdom, there are as many versions of Linux as there are applications for it. Thus, if you are a gamer, there's a distro for that. If you want to use your system as a media center, there's a distro for that. If you want to reincarnate an Intel P3 system running at 760MHz, there's a distro for that, and so on.
The reason I have given only 4 stars, is that the book does not go much deeper, and for any Linux user with any familiarity with the system, the contents should be a given. For a newcomer to Linux, this book may not have sufficient depth to help them make the decision to switch from something else. The author's other book "Linux for Beginners" is a much more useful book in that regard. I feel the two books combined would be a much more useful resource for most people.
I have been using Linux for five years now and still find "Linux for Beginners" a good reference in order to do more than use prepackaged applications. I have found it useful to dig deeper into the workings of the operating system (admittedly, not necessarily something everyone wants to do) and to modify the structure in order to make the system more efficient and custom for me.
Oops! This has turned into a review of "Linux for Beginners" rather than the original book. However, the title of both books suggest the target audience is the newcomer to Linux or someone who is contemplating making the switch from (generally speaking) Windows (since Mac OS, Android and Linux are all essentially derived from the same source). Thus I feel a mention of the author's other book is important to help anyone to make up their mind to do so.
I have tried to make this a non technical review, since I believe those that would be most interested in the book(s) are newcomers to Linux. I hope I have succeeded in that.
For somebody who is interested in seeing what the various Linux distros look like without having to actually run each one first, this is a good overview. I've been using Ubuntu and have always been curious about the other distros that folks rave about. After looking them all over, I'll stick with Ubuntu. Not the flashiest, but that's not what I was looking for when I switched to Linux.
I expected that "Illustrated Guide" would mean something more than a few standard screen shots from each of the included Linux distributions. That's what it delivers, and absolutely nothing more. There are illustrations; there is no guide.
As a free ebook, it's a waste of time. If the price rises above zero, it would be a waste of money, too.