Running Linux
Matt Welsh & Lar Kaufman
Published by O'Reilly & Associates, Inc
Softback UKP18-50

A review by Adam Fraser.

Running Linux contains all the information required to install and maintain the Linux operating system on a personal computer. It has chapters on Unix basics, system administration, programming languages and even configures a World Wide Web server in the network communications section.

Each chapter is highly informative with a detailed examination and explanation of software you will find in every installation of Linux. The first chapter is especially useful to those people trying to promote Linux as it contains a extensive introduction to Linux explaining in essence what Linux is, what it can do and why it is so popular. While all the chapters are useful probably the most informative, as is probably to be expected, is Programming with Linux which covers in some detail the suite of GNU C/C++ compiler and tools available as well as covering Perl, Tcl, Tk and shell programming. Its simple explanation of Makefiles and the GNU debugger are the best we have read and cover the cost of the book themselves.

The appendices contain information on where to obtain Linux whether this is through ftp, a BBS or even simply through the mail. It also contains a guide to all the other information materials about Linux which is a necessity for such an ever-changing operating system. The index of Running Linux is one of the best we have seen with seemingly a heading for every word in the actual book. This makes it a perfect reference book and when using Linux we now have Running Linux constantly at hand to remind me of those strange and esoteric command line parameters.

If we were trying to find any problem with the book, and we have had to search hard, it is that this book like Linux itself has a 'hacker-centric' viewpoint. While advocating such an approach is worthwhile some users just wish to type in their documents or input data into their spreadsheet without having to recompile the kernel. Until this hacker ethic which is the prevalent attitude of most Linux users is diminished it seems unlikely that Linux will ever be immensely popular in the way the Microsoft Windows is today.

Running Linux is a comprehensive guide and we would recommend it to anyone who was considering installing, maintaining or even just using Linux.

Adam Fraser (adam@cranial.demon.co.uk) 13 July 1995

Currently completing a PhD in Artificial Life and Genetic Programming. He has been a Linux User for a year and half and remembers compiling a 0.99.1 kernel at some point which he did not enjoy. He is also the editor of cranial, a WWW magazine (http://www.u-net.com/virtua/cranial) and a partner in Virtua Computing, a software and WWW design group.