Welcome!

Linux Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Trevor Parsons, Lori MacVittie, Peter Silva, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Linux

Linux: Article

Linux for Dummies, 5th Edition

Everything a beginner needs to install and run Linux

In this installment of the Book Rookery, Kevin Bedell speaks with LWM's own Dee-Ann LeBlanc about the latest edition of Linux for Dummies, which features expanded coverage of the Linux desktop, among other things.

Can people without a lot of computer experience really install and use Linux for everyday tasks?

Sure! I won't claim that it's "tie both hands behind your back" easy to learn Linux, but installation has never been simpler in most cases, and you point and click your way through things just like you do in Windows and Mac OS X - unless you're really into learning the ol' tried-and-true command line. Some people are.

Does the book cover just Linux, or does it cover other applications, such as OpenOffice?

There's a nice meaty chapter on OpenOffice.org and all of the programs in that suite. There's also a ton of material on multimedia stuff, and other fun tools that I thought folks might like to know more about. I'd say it's about half and half. The other half of the book contains things about using Linux in the GUI and command line, customizing the GUI, and other tasks that will help you feel more comfortable.

What has changed from previous editions of Linux for Dummies?

In the early editions, we tried to cover everything, from desktop to server. The 5th edition is the culmination of my decision last time around to bring this book more and more to a desktop focus. That lets me zoom in on enough interesting stuff that it's not just some quick survey that has no real details. There are lots of books that have information on how to set up servers. There's still not much that focuses on the desktop. Removing the more server-based content has let me expand the OpenOffice and multimedia coverage, in particular.

What are the biggest challenges that most beginning users have installing and using Linux?

Sometimes a particular version of Linux and a particular hardware setup just don't seem to get along. Without being there in person, I can't be sure what happens, but it's happened to me too. (Just as some computers don't seem to get along well with Windows.) I've talked to some Linux users who had to try more than one distribution before they found one they really liked.

As far as using Linux, it's important to remember that learning Linux is like learning a whole new language if you've never done anything in Unix. These are some of the things I try in particular to address, by helping readers to understand some of the terminology and how things are seen and done a bit differently in the Linux world.

Is Linux ready for the desktop for average users?

You'd kind of have to define an average user for me. A lot of average folks write me to thank me for the book, saying they're set up and happily playing with Linux. Other people write to me with problems, and I help them as best I can. The biggest problem is in the area of installation; if something goes wrong it can really go wrong. However, people forget that most users don't install their own Windows boxes. They just buy them pre-installed.

Once people get their Linux boxes set up, the average user really seems to have no trouble as long as no one talked them into trying a more advanced distribution. Debian is great for the server, but it's not something that I would hand to someone new to Linux who just wants to try something out on the desktop.

If I buy this book, do I get everything I need to install and run Linux?

You get Fedora Core 1 on DVD, so you get the entire Fedora distribution, and even the source code if you really want to play with it for some insane reason.

Can I call you if I have problems?

I do answer e-mail, though not always as quickly as I might like (sometimes I'm on the road or under heavy deadlines). I'm also part of the AnswerSquad (www.answersquad.com), which is a paid support team that can handle all kinds of questions, not just Linux ones. Since it's paid I make sure to answer questions faster there, and if I'm not around to do so immediately, there are other people who can. It's a nice way for me to pool my services with other folks so I have time to write and work as well.

Is Linux better than Windows? If so, why?

For some this is a religious question! My general response to this is, "Well, what are you trying to do?" I try to remember that computers are just tools, as are operating systems. Personally, I prefer Linux. I find it more stable, and better built in terms of security. I also prefer the philosophy behind the free software and open source communities to the "What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine" approach taken by many powerful closed source computer companies.

I know this is a very diplomatic answer, but I'm a very shades-of-gray kind of person. The world isn't black and white. Though I suppose Tux, the Linux mascot, is.

I've heard I can install and run Linux on older and less powerful computers. Will this book help me do this?

You sure can do this. You'll find the best use for older computers to be on the server front, where you don't need a GUI. I find that with any desktop system, no matter what OS you use, you generally want to have as powerful a computer as you can manage, just because it's got to run a GUI, hold five windows with different programs open at once, play games, and more. If you don't need a high-end desktop system though (say you just want to use it for word processing), then Linux on an older system can be perfect - especially if you take the time to customize your GUI to the point where it's using very small components.

I don't get into this level of GUI customization in the book since it's more advanced, but I do tell you how to turn the GUI off completely. Now there's a nice, light interface!

LINUX FOR DUMMIES

Copyright ® 2003 by Wiley Publishing, Inc. Reproduced here by permission. All rights reserved. For Dummies is a registered trademark of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries.

About Dee-Ann Leblanc:
Dee-Ann LeBlanc, gaming industry editor of LinuxWorld Magazine, has been involved with Linux since 1994. Dee-Ann is the author of 12 books, 130 articles, and has more of both coming. She is a trainer, a course developer - including the official Red Hat online courseware at DigitalThink - a founding member of the AnswerSquad, and a consultant.
[email protected]

More Stories By Kevin Bedell

Kevin Bedell, one of the founding editors of Linux.SYS-CON.com, writes and speaks frequently on Linux and open source. He is the director of consulting and training for Black Duck Software.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices – computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be!
Noted IoT expert and researcher Joseph di Paolantonio (pictured below) has joined the @ThingsExpo faculty. Joseph, who describes himself as an “Independent Thinker” from DataArchon, will speak on the topic of “Smart Grids & Managing Big Utilities.” Over his career, Joseph di Paolantonio has worked in the energy, renewables, aerospace, telecommunications, and information technology industries. His expertise is in data analysis, system engineering, Bayesian statistics, data warehouses, business intelligence, data mining, predictive methods, and very large databases (VLDB). Prior to DataArchon, he served as a VP and Principal Analyst with Constellation Group. He is a member of the Boulder (Colo.) Brain Trust, an organization with a mission “to benefit the Business Intelligence and data management industry by providing pro bono exchange of information between vendors and independent analysts on new trends and technologies and to provide vendors with constructive feedback on their of...
Software AG helps organizations transform into Digital Enterprises, so they can differentiate from competitors and better engage customers, partners and employees. Using the Software AG Suite, companies can close the gap between business and IT to create digital systems of differentiation that drive front-line agility. We offer four on-ramps to the Digital Enterprise: alignment through collaborative process analysis; transformation through portfolio management; agility through process automation and integration; and visibility through intelligent business operations and big data.
There will be 50 billion Internet connected devices by 2020. Today, every manufacturer has a propriety protocol and an app. How do we securely integrate these "things" into our lives and businesses in a way that we can easily control and manage? Even better, how do we integrate these "things" so that they control and manage each other so our lives become more convenient or our businesses become more profitable and/or safe? We have heard that the best interface is no interface. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Co-Founder & CTO at Octoblu, Inc., will discuss how these devices generate enough data to learn our behaviors and simplify/improve our lives. What if we could connect everything to everything? I'm not only talking about connecting things to things but also systems, cloud services, and people. Add in a little machine learning and artificial intelligence and now we have something interesting...
Last week, while in San Francisco, I used the Uber app and service four times. All four experiences were great, although one of the drivers stopped for 30 seconds and then left as I was walking up to the car. He must have realized I was a blogger. None the less, the next car was just a minute away and I suffered no pain. In this article, my colleague, Ved Sen, Global Head, Advisory Services Social, Mobile and Sensors at Cognizant shares his experiences and insights.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) irreversibly encoded. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, will look at how this identity problem can be solved and discuss ways to use existing web identities for real-time communication.
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, will share some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, an Open Source Cloud Communications company that helps the shift from legacy IN/SS7 telco networks to IP-based cloud comms. An early investor in multiple start-ups, he still finds time to code for his companies and contribute to open source projects.
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT. Attendees will learn real-world benefits of WebRTC and explore future possibilities, as WebRTC and IoT intersect to improve customer service.
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to create new business models as significant as those that were inspired by the Internet and the smartphone 20 and 10 years ago. What business, social and practical implications will this phenomenon bring? That's the subject of "Monetizing the Internet of Things: Perspectives from the Front Lines," an e-book released today and available free of charge from Aria Systems, the leading innovator in recurring revenue management.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges.
There’s Big Data, then there’s really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at 6th Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, to discuss how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Erik Lagerway, Co-founder of Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services to the modern P2P RTC era of OTT cloud assisted services.
While great strides have been made relative to the video aspects of remote collaboration, audio technology has basically stagnated. Typically all audio is mixed to a single monaural stream and emanates from a single point, such as a speakerphone or a speaker associated with a video monitor. This leads to confusion and lack of understanding among participants especially regarding who is actually speaking. Spatial teleconferencing introduces the concept of acoustic spatial separation between conference participants in three dimensional space. This has been shown to significantly improve comprehension and conference efficiency.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, will discuss single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example to explain some of these concepts including when to use different storage models.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace. These technological reforms have not only changed computers and smartphones, but are also changing the data processing model for all information devices. In particular, in the area known as M2M (Machine-To-Machine), there are great expectations that information with a new type of value can be produced using a variety of devices and sensors saving/sharing data via the network and through large-scale cloud-type data processing. This consortium believes that attaching a huge number of devic...
Innodisk is a service-driven provider of industrial embedded flash and DRAM storage products and technologies, with a focus on the enterprise, industrial, aerospace, and defense industries. Innodisk is dedicated to serving their customers and business partners. Quality is vitally important when it comes to industrial embedded flash and DRAM storage products. That’s why Innodisk manufactures all of their products in their own purpose-built memory production facility. In fact, they designed and built their production center to maximize manufacturing efficiency and guarantee the highest quality of our products.
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. Over the summer Gartner released its much anticipated annual Hype Cycle report and the big news is that Internet of Things has now replaced Big Data as the most hyped technology. Indeed, we're hearing more and more about this fascinating new technological paradigm. Every other IT news item seems to be about IoT and its implications on the future of digital business.
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. Download Slide Deck: ▸ Here
BSQUARE is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success. For more information, visit www.bsquare.com.