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Red Hat Fedora and Enterprise Linux 4 Bible

A review

I was recently looking to upgrade a laptop to Fedora Core 4, which happened to happen at roughly the time I got a copy of Red Hat Fedora and Enterprise Linux 4 Bible by noted technology author Christopher Negus. During a quick scan I ran into a section that I think many Linux users, Fedora or otherwise, might fine useful, Chapter 9, using the "Internet and the Web," which despite the chapter heading delves into things many new Linux users might find interesting particularly "Remote Login Copy and Execution," which was excerpted in Volume 3, Issue 8 of LinuxWorld Magazine.

Another fortuitous turn was the Fedora Core 4 on DVD, which made it one of my first Linux upgrades that didn't require a number of CDs burned from ISOs downloaded from ftp sites or Bit Torrent. Negus' book is a continuation of an anthology that started in 1999 with the Red Hat Linux Bible. The latest edition has been refined, polished and covers both Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux products.

The value of this book is that it's a comprehensive resource for a user new to Linux complete with the installation media of Fedora Core 4 and a bootable Knoppix Linux distribution.

The book is broken into five sections: Getting Started, Using, Administering, Network and Server Setup, and New Technology. One novel section in Chapter 2 covers preparing for installation using Knoppix and goes through the steps of using the LiveCD to resize hard drive partitions and check hardware compatibility. For potential Linux users evaluating a new piece of hardware for Linux compatibility this technique of using the Knoppix CD for a try-before-you-buy exercise can be a great timesaver.

For the enterprise or business user sections three and four are of the greatest value. For example, Negus covers system administration including the GUI and command line tools and provides an overview of the tools specific to FC4 and RHEL but delves into topics that appeal to any Linux server administrator. For example, Chapter 13 covers backup strategies and focuses on the Open Source tools that a Linux user could call on to provide backups including dump and pax tools. However, there 's surprising little coverage of archiving and compression utilities like tar and gzip.

Chapter 14 treats a topic often neglected in Linux books but is especially important, namely, security. Inexperienced Linux users might leave their newly configured Linux system exposed to unnecessary security risks. While this isn't an in-depth analysis there's a good overview of security and best practices including using tcp-wrappers to secure services and their integration with the xinet daemon.

In its voluminous 1,118 pages the book touches on most topics germane to a FC4 and RHEL user. The content flows between desktop and server use as well as the Fedora community and Red Hat's commercial operating systems. The book doesn't provide in-depth coverage of any particular aspect of Red Hat's operating systems but does provide a single resource for installing, configuring, and using them.

My only major criticism is the customary inclusion of a listing of all the FC4 rpms in Appendix 4, which as soon as you start to update your system will be out of date and because of the length of the list makes an already heavy book needlessly heavier.

Otherwise the experienced Linux user who knows the ins and outs of other Linux distributions will find references to the "system-config" tools specific to these distributions, so-called because they start with the system-config prefix. Also Appendix D is a nice touch. It includes the features of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.

If you want to evaluate Fedora on the desktop or server or want a good Red Hat Enterprise Linux reference, the Red Hat Fedora and Enterprise Linux Bible is a good resource.

More Stories By Mark R. Hinkle

Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Soure Solutions at Citrix. He also is along-time open source expert and advocate. He is a co-founder of both the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium. He has served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine. Hinkle is also the author of the book, "Windows to Linux Business Desktop Migration" (Thomson, 2006). His blog on open source, technology, and new media can be found at http://www.socializedsoftware.com.

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