|Practical Guide to Red Hat Linux: Fedora Core and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (2nd Edition)|
|author||Mark G. Sobell|
|publisher||Prentice Hall PTR|
|summary||Practical Guide to Red Hat Linux: Fedora Core and RHEL|
The book is separated into parts: Installing Red Hat Linux, Getting Started with Red Hat Linux, Digging into Red Hat Linux, System Administration, Using Clients and Setting Up Servers, Programming, and Appendixes. Each part is further divided into chapters including Linux Utilities and Filesystem, GUIs, Shell, Networking/Internet, Files, Directories, Downloading/Installing Software, Printing with CUPS, Rebuilding the Linux Kernel, Admin Tasks, Configuring a LAN, OpenSSH, FTP, sendmail, NIS, NFS, Samba, DNS/BIND, iptables, Apache, Programming Tools, Regular Expressions, Security and many others. Clearly, Sobell takes great pains to address every aspect of Linux that the end user or admin would encounter. Sobell has also taken several steps to make sure the book works as a reference work: he's structured the layout with identifiers (Fedora or RHEL) to enable the reader to identify the OS he or she is mainly interested in, optional sections with more difficult concepts that can be skipped until the reader is more competent to address them, caution boxes that provide warnings about troublesome areas, tip boxes with interesting information or alternative suggestions, security boxes, many practical examples, chapter summaries, review exercises, resources, GNU tools, pointers to online documentation and URLS. There is also a glossary with cross-references to other terms and chapter page numbers.
After a Welcome To Linux chapter that introduces the reader to the history of Linux/Unix, GNU and why everyone should use Linux (an understandable inclusion, but probably of little interest to current Linux users), we move quickly into a brief overview of installation. A scant 50 pages is dedicated to installation, but Sobell covers the necessary particulars with sufficient depth that even a beginner should feel comfortable with these instructions. I approached this book from an administrator's perspective so felt the time and detail devoted to installation was completely appropriate; neither too much nor too little information presented. Experienced users can easily skip this section and not feel they've lost any significant amount of their investment by doing so; at over a 1000 pages, this book has plenty for everyone. It's interesting to note that the author chooses to lead the user through installing KDE instead of GNOME, Red Hat's default desktop manager, although both are addressed in detail in Part III.
Part II introduces the reader to Red Hat, Linux utilities (ls, cat, rm, cp, grep, head, tail, sort, diff, echo, script, mcopy, gzip, gunzip, zcat, tar, which, whereis, apropos, who, finger, write, talk, vim), the Linux filesystem (mkdir, cd, absolute and relative pathnames, rmdir, mv, cp, access permissions, hard links, symbolic links) and an intro to the Shell (the author's choice is bash). Both graphical and command line utilities are discussed; system admins in particular should become familiar with the command line choices.
Part III covers Linux GUIs (xwindow, startx, remote computing, GNOME, KDE) and more bash (basics, separating and grouping commands, redirecting standard error, parameters and variables) in depth, and gives an introduction to networking and the Internet (types of networks, network protocols and utilities, ping, traceroute, host and dig, distributed computing, usenet). This leads smoothly into Part IV, System Administration. This is a meaty chunk of the book, with well-written core information (core concepts, files, directories and filesystems, downloading and installing software, printing with CUPS, rebuilding the Linux Kernel, Admin tasks and LAN configuration). Sobell introduces the reader to installing and updating using Red Hat's RPM system and updating via Yum and Apt. An especially nice addition here is Chapter 15 on Rebuilding the Linux Kernel. Often glossed over or ignored completely, this is an exercise that should be included in any decent Linux volume and Sobell doesn't disappoint.
Part V continues the administration learning curve on Using Clients and Setting Up Servers. Chapters include OpenSSH, FTP, sendmail, NFS, Samba, DNS/BIND and Apache. Probably every advanced user to administrator should take some time over the OpenSSH chapter; it contains great information, start with, but more importantly is positioned as a prerequisite to further secure network communication instruction.
These chapters should provide more than adequate instruction for anyone running Apache, Samba or mail services for the first time. However, somewhere in here a primer on PHP/mySQL and additional email server choices (other than the discussed sendmail) would be welcome.
Programming tools and a revisit with bash comprise Part VI. Programming in C, using shared libraries, debugging, system calls and CVS are covered in Chapter 27. Chapter 28 continues with additional bash commands and concepts (control structures, string pattern matching, filename generation and functions), utilizing many short script examples. There's an excellent section on CVS and very useful information on compilers.
The Appendixes and glossary round out the book with helpful information on regular expressions (characters, delimiters, special characters, bracketing expressions), help (finding Linux-related information, documentation, Linux sites/newsgroups/mailing lists, software, office suites and specifying a terminal) and security (encryption, file/email/network/host/login/remote access/physical security, viruses and worms and security resources).
Also included in the appendixes is the Free Software Definition, which is a verbatim copy of the original document on the GNU website, and a description of features new to the 2.6 kernel.
Since I'm in an educational environment, I found the content of Sobell's book to be right on target and very helpful for anyone managing Linux in the enterprise. His style of writing is very clear. He builds up to the chapter exercises, which I find to be relevant to real-world scenarios a user or admin would encounter. An IT/IS student would find this book a valuable complement to their education. The vast amount of information is extremely well-balanced and Sobell manages to present the content without complicated asides and meandering prose. This is a "must have" for anyone managing Linux systems in a networked environment or anyone running a Linux server. I would also highly recommend it to an experienced computer user who is moving to the Linux platform.
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