on Wed Jan 26, '00 08:35 AM from the the-e-business-solution dept. Caldera Systems, who's currently IPO Bound also has created one of the most popular distributions for use in the business environment. Click below to read more about how to use Caldera OpenLinux - and thanks to Terry Collings for the review.
The book is divided into six main sections beginning with an introduction to Linux and comparisons between other distributions and OpenLinux. This is immediately followed by very concise instructions on installing OpenLinux. The next section, Using OpenLinux, contains 6 chapters that take the reader through the K Desktop Environment (KDE). Beginning with an introduction to the KDE and continuing through navigating and customizing the desktop, this section finishes with a look at the many KDE applications.
Chapters 9 to 20 make up the third section which is titled OpenLinux System Administration. In this section we find almost everything we need to know about maintaining our basic OpenLinux system. There is an explanation of the Linux file system, a necessity for those coming from the DOS/Windows world, users, groups and permissions are also explained. Instructions are provided for making customizations to the shell environment, how to set up printing and how to install pre-built packages as well as how to build your own. This section also includes a chapter on building custom kernel modules, a nightmare for newbies, but something which inevitably needs to be done sometime. The section ends with a good description of LILO, the boot loader, and a list of the possible errors one might encounter.
Networking is the topic for the fourth section of the book and it is covered 15 chapters worth. Even someone who is a complete novice at networking will be able to set up a network without much difficulty after getting through this section. There is an entire chapter devoted to explaining TCP/IP fundamentals to lay the foundation for what follows. Two chapters are devoted to connecting to an ISP and sending and receiving e-mail. There are instructions for DNS, FTP, IP masquerading and firewalling, which is especially useful for connecting multiple pcs to one ISP connection. Users with Netware or Microsoft networks will find instructions for connecting those computers to their Linux box. Finally, if after reading all the information contained in this section a user can't set up a network, there is a chapter that builds a sample network. All one has to do is follow the examples as the work is already done for them.
Section six covers the X Window system. As those of us who use Linux know, geting the X server to work is often a lot of work. I can't say that this section makes it any less work, but it may make it a bit easier. There are good explanations of how the X server works, including a step by step analysis of the XF86Config file. Unless someone has some really weird video card, this section should get them running.
We're getting close to the end now. Section six covers two topics, encryption and multimedia. The chapter on encryption looks at file encryption using Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) and network connection security using the Secure Shell (SSH). Instructions on getting the programs as well as installing and configuring them are included. The last chapter of the book explains the Open Sound System (OSS) from installation through configuration as well as listing supported sound cards. There are many pages covering Realplayer installation and configuration and finally, there is a small section about installing and configuring Adobe Acrobat Reader.
This brings us to the Appendixes which list commonly used commands, hardware compatability, loadable module parameters and where to find other information about Linux.
I used to be a tech writer, so whenever I get my hands on a book like this I try real hard to find things wrong with it. I suppose I do this because the other writers where I worked would do it to my books. Anyway, there is very little bad about this book. Yes, there are some typos, but the most significant bad aspect of this book is it must weigh ten pounds. Not exactly easy to hold in one hand while you're trying to type with the other. And one other thing I could add, even though the book does cover many topics in great detail, there are instances where I felt the explanations could have been better. For example, Chapter 17, Building Custom Modules is rather sparse, especially concerning loadable modules. The reader is referred to the next chapter, which does cover modules, but this is awkward.
The level of detail in this book far surpasses anything done to date for any other distribution. I have a large bookshelf full of Linux books, but this is the book I always reach for. Of course, since I am using Open Linux this makes sense, but there is information in this book that applies to any distribution, especially the great detail in the KDE, X-Server and networking sections. Also included is a small pull out section that includes installation reference, Linux and KDE keystrokes and references, a comparison of DOS and Linux commands and even some frequently asked questions.
So What's In It For Me?
In a word, Everything. No, really. Whether the user of this book is a complete newbie to Linux or has some experience, this book will be useful. Well, more than useful. A careful reading of this book will answer nearly any question someone might have about using Linux in general, and Caldera OpenLinux in particular.