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Book Review: Linux Desktop Pocket Guide by David Brickner

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The Linux Desktop Pocket Guide is a valuable resource for new users to the Linux world. Almost everyone has heard of Linux and recognizes it as the “next big thing”. However, many people are taken aback at the sheer number of Linux distributions. The advantage of Windows is that there is only one company to go to and that provides some simplicity. With Linux, there is no one-stop shopping, and each distribution has different strengths and weaknesses. This book helps the novice user to navigate the most popular distributions to decide which will work best for them.

The book compares Fedora, Gentoo, Mandriva, SUSE, and Ubuntu with a focus on their desktop environments. The book has some value for system administrators, particularly new ones, but will make the biggest impact to the casual home-user to the beginner power-user.

It covers a wide range of desktop issues including Gnome/KDE support, application support, updating the OS, configuration for hardware support, and probably most usefully laptop support. Laptops have traditionally been less than friendly with laptops and this book helps navigate the big issues making Linux a viable option for laptops.

It is a little thick as pocket guides go, but that’s more of a factor of the breadth of material covered. Like many of the O’Reilly books, it is concise and easy-to-read. It is accessible to the unsophisticated user and presents information in manageable chunks. For those looking to get a handle on Linux and making it work for them, this book is a great resource.

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A political activist and security expert.