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The Debian System: Concepts and Techniques
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From the Author
Please see debiansystem.info for more information about this title. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Martin Krafft has been a faithful supporter of Debian since 1997, working on quality assurance, security topics, interfaces, and processes. He has experience administering mid-sized networks and providing user support, and is responsible for numerous servers. Krafft received his Ph.D. from the University of Limerick, having researched adoption behavior among contributors to the Debian System.
Top customer reviews
Although English is not the native language of the author, the text is easy to follow, well written and things are well explained.
This is a book a really do wish I'd bought a year ago, rather than waiting until now. The book is based on the current Sarge release of Debian, but does make reference to the upcoming Etch relase. The web site that goes with the book also provides full errata and diffs to the Etch release.
If you use a debian Linux such as Ubuntu, Linspire, Mepis then this may also be well worth buying too.
Every purchase includes a donation to towards the Debian.
If you are such a person, this book is probably essential. Although Debian has a myriad of tools and conveniences to help administrators, they are unobtrusive, and many are only documented in the man pages and text files that accompany them. Unless you already understand the Debian way of doing things, you will miss a great deal. Long-time Debian users will have absorbed some of this knowledge, but, as far as I know, this is the only book that actually explains "the Debian way".
Although it was written for a previous release of Debian, the information remains valid, so you should not be put off on that account - it remains a unique and very valuable resource.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
1. Add ingredient A to the mixture.
2. Add ingredient B.
3. Before you add ingredient B, be sure to let the mixture sit for 10 minutes!
4. By the way, ingredient B should be added before ingredient A for best results.
Here is are two short exerps as examples:
"When init is invoked by the kernel, it reads /etc/inittab and processes the file top to bottom, according to the rules described in inittab (5). Before anything else, init calls /etc/init.d/rcS..."
"...Before iterating through the files, the /etc/default/rcS file is sourced; the file parameterizes some aspects of the boot process. The files in /etc/rcS.d are actually just symlinks to corresponding files in /etc/init.d"
This kind of writing makes it very unclear what the actual process order is, to readers not already familiar with it.
In places he also states, in a 'by the way' style, critical information you could have used half a chapter ago. In other places he'll give you just enough information on a topic to get yourself into trouble only to inform you that "we'll cover this in a later chapter." While some of this is to be expected, it happens quite frequently.
The book packs a great deal of useful information, if you have the patience to break it down and re-construct it into a more logical order or are already familiar with the topics being covered. Due to these shortcomings, the book reads extremely slowly; Don't expect to whip through it in a week.
I believe this book is the perfect book for anyone switching from another GNU w/Linux distro to Debian GNU w/Linux (Very little Hurd info), for me it is the most valuable on things like working with X and the advanced details of the packing system and how to Debianize (or GNU'ify) your own software.
It also introduces you very well to the Debian community and development process.
Personally I would like to see a bit less beginner stuff, little less "how to install" stuff, and more on the corporate side of things like managing multiple systems and automating stuff without breaking other stuff. I think it would be a good idea to split it in two or three, the beginners/basics stuff, perhaps one devoted to using X (and the X apps) on Debian, and one on the more advanced topics...
I liked this book because, finally, an author has had the presence of mind to write a book that did not regurgitate Unix commands like 'ls' and 'vi' for the gazillionth time. The focus is on debian, and only on those parts that make debian unique -- the culture of the "debian project", the notoriety for its alleged difficulty of installation (which I have not experienced), the speed and timeliness of its releases (not!), and homage to that supreme program -- apt-get and its close relatives.
Those new to Linux may do well to first read a general Unix/Linux book before delving into this one. They will also be well served by first playing around with Knoppix (...) which is a debian derivative that does not require a hard-disk install. This is especially useful if you are not (yet) prepared to wipe your hard disk clean of Windows.
If you're not a rank beginner, buy this book, and install Debian 3.1 which is on the accompanying DVD. People wanting a more polished and up-to-date debian might want to try its close cousin, Ubuntu (...). While individual packages might vary somewhat, the concepts presented in this book are applicable across debian and its progeny (including Knoppix and Ubuntu).
In summary, raise the quality of your Linux reading a few notches by purchasing this book, and raise the quality of your personal computer usage by installing debian or its derivatives.