I have used Windows since the early 1990s. Went through 3.1 to 95 to 98 to XP (and I have one machine running Windows 2000 right now--I think that is the one place where MS did OK). Now with Windows Vista, it seems as if it will require many people to upgrade their hardware. I have several IBM Thinkpads T21, T30, and T42 and none of them will run Vista Business using its full features (do not have a sufficient graphics card). So, I decided to give Linux a try as a substitute for Windows Vista.
So I purchased Thomas' 2nd edition of his book and with the DVD installed SUSE 10.1 on my Thinkpad T30 laptop in less than an hour. Before purchasing this book I fiddled with some different Linux flavors (Fedora, Ubuntu, and Suse). Problem was while they are easy to install, I did not know what I was doing. Hence, this book is a greater owner's manual for Suse Linux.
The most difficult part was configuring a wireless network card to work. Very frustrating experience in Linux. Wireless networking is so important these days and with the frustration you encounter some people might throw their hands up in the air, give up, and return to Microsoft Windows. This book may prevent that from happening. At least it did for me.
Good Thing: With Thomas' book, I followed the instructions in Chapter 8 and was able to get my wireless connection up and running in about 15 minutes. This involves the use of ndiswrapper to work with the Windows driver. (BTW: I have the Linksys WPC54G Version 3 wireless card). Author wallks through this process and it was not as frustrating had I followed what people posted in forums. I am brand new to Linux.
The book is very readable and enjoyable. I am learning about the various features of Linux and how it operates. It is not Windows, it takes some getting used to, but in the amount of money you save, I think it might be a worthwhile investment. Less of a need for anti-virus software (which can save money) and if you have a broadband connection, you can always download the latest version of Linux, burn the image to a CD or DVD and then install it. Also, this distro comes with Open Office. This saves me a lot of money.
With Windows, Vista Business goes for about $200 and another $350 or so for Office 2007. Antivirus software can cost $50 and then you have pay $30 per year to subscribe to updates. Alternatively, I purchased this Suse Linux book for $39 at my university and have everything I need in a stable operating system.
The author does bash Microsoft from time to time, but that should not bother you because most people give Linux a try after dissatisfaction with Microsoft anyway. With open-source software people have donated their programming skills, time, and energy to advancing this software. So many people can look at the code and find bugs and then these can be repaired swiftly.
Author explains how to secure computer with a firewall. Also, there are a few anti-virus options for Linux and author mentions them. But they are for the most part unnecessary because most virus writers want to inflict the most damage and most people use Windows so they write viruses for Windows. A study by Sophos in 2003 indicated about 40 Linux viruses compared to 1,000 new Windows viruses per month (p. 164). That is why with my Windows machines I was always obessing over Windows updates and scanning for viruses once per day. I was looking around on the internet and noticed that the Defense Department in the United States uses Linux--guess that says something about its potential for security.
Thomas does a great job of explaining how to secure your computer and how to do tasks that a Windows user might need to know in making the switch. I highly recommend using this book to get into Linux as I have been very successful in doing nearly every task I did in Windows. To the extent that you run into any snafus, Thomas' book is great to have on the shelf to solve the problem.
I have a feeling that I am going to be sticking with Linux instead of purchasing Microsoft Vista.
Thank you Mr. Thomas for this superb introduction to Linux.