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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Linux for Non-Geeks
Publisher: No Starch Press
Authors: Rickford Grant
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good, but too limited

On the positive side, Grant writes clearly for the Linux curious, and keeps things lively (a hard feet for a technically-oriented book). You also get a relatively up-to-date version of Red Hat's desktop-oriented distribution of Linux, Fedora. You should be able to get up and running on Linux without too much difficulty, and Fedora is one of the most used Linux distributions. Still, the Fedora orientation of the book is its limitation. First, for true Linux newbies (I count myself among them), there are several distributions that may be better for getting acquainted (I like Xandros Deluxe, but there is also Mandrake, Lycoris, PCLinuxOS, and Lindows, among others- two good sites for info are desktopos.com & distrowatch.org). Second, the author spends most of his attention on one desktop gui (graphical user interface) for Linux, Gnome. While a nice environment, most of the other Linux-newbie oriented distributions use some form of the other main environment, KDE. The third problem of the books too-narrow focus on one distribution is that he covers the Redhat standard for adding Linux applications, RPM. Again, as many of the other newbie-oriented distributions are based on the highly regarded Debian Linux, while they can and do use RPM, their focus is on the Debian package management system. To be fair, Grant does spend time on KDE & Debian so that people are aware of them and have some inkling of how they differ and how to get started with them, but for someone who chooses one of the more newbie-oriented distributions that use these, you find yourself putting this book down and grabbing for other resources. I'm not sure how Grant could have been a bit more agnostic and still made this a good basic introduction, but I found that given my choice of another Linux distribution that uses KDE & Debian package management, left me quickly setting this book down and reaching for the excellent online howtos, user forums, and the more advanced introduction to Linux (and a great way to start to really get to know your way around and do things with Linux), Running Linux by Welsh, Dalheimer, Dawson, and Kaufman. Finally, Grant doesn't spend quite enough time with security and administration. While Linux is a very secure system, one cannot get lulled into relying entirely on keeping the software up-to-date. This book is focused on customizing your linux desktop & doing many of the main things for which the average home user has gotten used to doing on a computer (word processing, downloading & playing music, browsing the internet, e-mail, etc.). You will need to do a bit more to set up a firewall and make sure it is running properly, turning off any unnecessary network protocols and processes that might come turned on, etc. His sole mention of firewalls is that you should click yes to turn on Fedora's default firewall on installation. Besides the fact that someone chosing a different distribution may have to take different steps, system security needs more than a sentence telling you to select an option and a couple pages on viruses (which is much less of a concern than having someone hack your system). At a minimum, people should also look at some of the howtos on security on the main Linux sites (e.g., newtolinux.org.uk, linux.org), and books such as Hatch & Lee's, Hacking Linux Exposed, 2nd ed. If you really want to get to know Linux (and those who will be running their system without an in-house sys. admin. will really need to go further than Grant's book), two O'Reilly books may be worth looking to after getting your feet wet with this book: Running Linux, and Linux in a Nutshell. Still, you will notice that I gave the book 4 stars because it is a very good intro. It is just a little too limited in a couple important ways and require that even the 'non-geek' beginner to quickly look beyond to some of the other more thorough introductory books mentioned above.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: C Programming Language (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Brian W. Kernighan, Dennis Ritchie, Dennis M. Ritchie
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Too elegant to be an introduction

There are many HYPEs on this book. "bible on C","a MUST", "I'm falling in love with this book!"... But this is NOT an introduction or primer on C. The misunderstandings like those have annoied many dummies severely for many years. The book is just a good reference for only knowledgable men and women.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: XML Bible (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Elliotte Rusty Harold
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent introduction and reference

A particularly well written and readable book which will be useful both as an introduction to XML/CSS/XSL as well as a useful reference for those trying to write applications using stylesheets etc. Elliott clearly knows his subject and the the sections on XSL were particularly useful.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Content Critical: Gaining Competitive Advantage through High-Quality Web Content
Publisher: Financial Times Prentice Hall
Authors: Gerry McGovern, Rob Norton
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Making the Complex Simple

Gerry McGovern takes the complex matter of designing a Website and managing its content and simplifies it into the logical world of production. He compares and contrasts Web publishing to print production, providing illumination for the many of us struggliing to organize, staff, and maintain top-notch sites. Must reading!