|By Kevin Bedell||
|January 22, 2005 12:00 AM EST||
Michael Stutz, author of The Linux Cookbook, 2nd Edition: Tips and Techniques for Everyday Use, discusses what inspired him to write this book, when he first started using Linux, and other world views.
Who is this book written for - system administrators or people new to Linux?
Admins will find the organization of undocumented tips and tricks quite useful, but it's not a technicians-only kind of book. I wanted to write a book that would also be of great value to someone who was totally new to Linux, that would show you the whole Linux culture and Linux way of doing things from the ground up.
It's the kind of book that you could use in a hands-on Linux course, but that would actually be useful enough so that the students would keep it as a daily reference afterward, instead of selling it right back to the college bookstore when the class is over.
This isn't a Linux for Total Fools in Five Seconds type book; it's not cutesy or trendy, and the purpose is not to enable someone who couldn't care less about the subject to cheat his way through, but to elevate the user by showing him how to use Linux for real.
You don't need a book to tell you how to fake it with a GUI, anyway. The only way to really know Linux is to learn the language of the command line. You'll save a lot of time in life by knowing that, and that's what this book is for.
What kind of feedback have you been getting on the book?
It hasn't been out very long but happily people seem to love it!
That's been reassuring because a lot of time and effort went into making it. With all due respect to Krispy Kreme, computer books nowadays are plopped out quicker than hot glazed doughnuts, but the Linux Cookbook wasn't like that at all. It's not a series book and it wasn't written for hire; it was only written because I had grown utterly dejected at the thought of how everyday people were using their computers. It really made me sad to see this mass inefficiency. People had these horrible time-wasting methods pushed on them when I knew they would be so much better off running Linux.
What's your background?
Computers were always inherent - this is the Internet Age, after all - but I'm a programmer or technician only by amateur or theoretical inquiry, not by trade. My background is literature and philosophy, which has brought the advantage of perspective. The secret that most people don't seem to know, because of what our culture has become in recent decades, is the fundamental idea that computer software is not, strictly speaking, technology at all. A program is just a literary work; it's a kind of technical literature. I talk about this in the introduction.
Forty years ago the United States was the greatest producer society in the world. What happened in that interval and how does it relate to Linux? Part of that transformative shift was the adoption of the view that computer programs were objects that you bought at the store, that they were somehow new "technology" to bank on. This obscured what they really were - written works to be published and examined and read, as well as performed by the hardware. When you remove that from the culture and only sell it as a sealed object in the box, you have a fairy-tale economy and a culture that is sliding into irrelevance, decadence, and decay. Linux is a return to the old tradition, to the individual inventor-scientist and industrial entrepreneur as the productive member of an educated populace. That's what so exciting about it.
How did you come to learn about Linux?
I heard about it on the newsgroups back when it was being invented. At first I thought, "Hey, this will be great," but I knew it would be some time before it would actually be useful as an everyday OS. Those were the days when Linus said he wasn't going to support the SCSI bus. Then after a few years I came back to it when the first distributions had come out. I got a copy of Slackware Linux, where you had to make an install set of about 42 floppy disks. I've never run another OS since. It looks very different today, of course, but the core of it - what is taught in The Linux Cookbook - is the same.
What's your favorite Linux program?
That's like asking a poet what his favorite word is; it's all in how they go together.
Is there anything you need to run Windows for?
Yes, there is an area affecting business and home use where Linux is greatly deficient, and I see no solution coming at all. I refer to the area of e-mail viruses - they just don't make them for Linux like they do for Windows. Same with a lot of those crippling meltdowns and system errors. If you want a blue screen of death freeze-up, you pretty much have to run Windows to get it. You won't be able to run those trojan horses that steal all your passwords and copy your files out to the Internet, and you're out of luck with all those funny attachments that wreak havoc in the workplace - there isn't any Linux compatibility here at all.
Do you think that Linux has enough applications that people can completely leave Windows behind?
Absolutely. If you don't need the viruses and freeze-ups, by all means go with Linux. Linux is loaded with applications, everything you need. Some distributions give you hundreds and hundreds of programs. The quality is high, too; the best minds in software today are working with Linux and have been for years.
On a practical and theoretical level, there's really no need for running anything else, if maximum efficiency is desired. I haven't run a proprietary OS in over a decade. This is true for the workplace as well as the home. The smart business today is the one that uses Linux.
Speaking in general terms, if you need to use a computer to get something done fast, you're going to be a step ahead by using Linux. That's the fundamental idea behind The Linux Cookbook; it describes how to use the system for the everyday activities of the average user, and not just the technical operations.
What would your advice be to someone who is just learning Linux? What's the best way to learn it?
The way to learn anything on computers is to sit down and do it. That's the only way - trial and error.
Knowing that, I designed the Cookbook to work as a textbook that can guide you at the keys by telling you what to type and explaining why you type it, starting with the utter fundamentals such as logging in and turning the computer on and off, and building up to the most complex operations you'll probably ever come up with.
Why does the book look different inside from most other computer books?
Since The Linux Cookbook is all about using Linux for everyday work, I thought, "What better way to demonstrate that than to use Linux to make the book?"
So through an arrangement with the publisher, I typeset the book using only free software on Linux. Everything you see in the book was done with the open source, free software that you get with Linux. How's that for a demonstration?
Because of computers, graphic design is no longer the domain of experts - anyone can use desktop publishing software to typeset something. But there's a paradox. If you look around, the result of this new capability is not so good; in fact, it's a nightmare. Perhaps I'm a little more sensitive to this than some, but everywhere I go I see poor typography and awful design. Who can peacefully dine in a supposedly fine restaurant when you see that the menu is slapped together with all the wrong fonts? How can you take a place seriously when you see the cheap sign out along the road? The same with books. When was the last time you flipped through a book and thought it looked absolutely great? I like the best of the books made on the Monotype and Linotype equipment of the precomputer days, and using Donald Knuth's TeX typesetting system I deliberately tried to achieve that caliber of greatness with The Linux Cookbook, to make a product that someone might actually be proud to own.
Do you think that Linux is just for home users?
No, not at all. Linux is not just an end-user system. While it's ideal for what's called "the desktop," either in the home or office - and that is the usage that I describe in The Linux Cookbook - it also excels in industrial applications. It's unparalleled there.
Many foreign governments are taking advantage of Linux for this reason, as well as foreign industries. We would do well to do the same here in the United States. The United States as a matter of policy has to get back to the kind of producer economy that we had 40 years ago, when computing was in its infancy. A tremendous shift in our culture occurred at that time, including the rejection of what we today call the open source method. We closed the factories, put the software in boxes, and called it a "post-industrial economy."
But it's no economy; that shift was a terrible mistake. Since then our production has plummeted and our culture has gone down with it. The United States is no longer a world leader in art and culture. The most popular word to describe its citizens today is "consumer." Our cities are decaying and dangerous. The implications for the younger generation are terrifying. But with Linux, we could turn all of that around!
Why is it a "cookbook"? Are there any recipes for food inside?
Doing something with a computer is a lot like making something in the kitchen, so the "recipe" metaphor lends itself to computer instruction. Don Lancaster wrote the first computer cook-books back in the early 1970s, I think, and before that in The Art of Computer Programming Knuth very clearly draws upon the metaphor. There are all kinds of computer "cookbooks" today because it's a natural way to look at the act of programming. While most computer cookbooks are for programmers and give "cookbook" snippets of program code, The Linux Cookbook uses that method for teaching the language of the command line, and I think it's very successful at that.
As for culinary recipes, there aren't any in the book. But it's not unheard of - Hemingway indulged in that, and in The Dharma Bums Kerouac tells you how trail mix is made. In Clifford Stoll's The Cuckoo's Egg, a book about computer hackers, there's a recipe for chocolate chip cookies.
What is your favorite cookbook in general?
I can talk all night on this subject! Generally the cookbooks I enjoy are the old ones. There was a time when America had many of the world's greatest chefs, and the greatest restaurants, and I look for that. For American cookbooks Master Chef Louis P. De Gouy set the standard, and if you can find a first edition of his Gold Cook Book it is worth it. Some say the cookbook put out by Vincent Price and his wife is one of the finest of the 20th century. Every well-appointed restaurant kitchen has Escoffier and a copy of the Larousse Gastronomique.
The Ford Motor Company used to publish excellent cookbooks featuring recipes from America's famous restaurants. When you bought a car they gave you one: "Here, go out on the road in your nice new Ford and have a look at this fine country!" Who in the world would do that today? What, to check out the Olive Gardens in Idaho? Of course it's nostalgic, since the entire nation has now been taken over by a giant franchise chain. I seek that forgotten history. Luchow's and Mama Leone's were New York institutions (with excellent cookbooks) the likes of which you cannot find in New York, or anywhere else today - Manhattan recently lost its last diner.
Even out in Columbus, Ohio, they had a gigantic world-class landmark, the Kahiki Polynesian Supper Club, worthy of a cookbook of its own. Its myriad features included an indoor tropical forest complete with thunder and rainstorm. The place was an astounding achievement, wonderfully preserved, and back in 2000 only weeks after it was voted best in the world by Food & Wine magazine, they demolished it for a Walgreen's. That's the future, for us and for all our children. Where is the outrage?
How about your favorite cartoon?
Zippy! I'll have to share my favorite Zippy strip, which relates to this discussion: zippythepinhead.com.
To conclude on a happy note, you should know that Linux has a way to display random Zippy quotes, and there's a recipe to show you how to do it in The Linux Cookbook.
About Michael Stutz
Michael Stutz has used Linux exclusively for over a decade. He was the first to apply the open source methodology of Linux to non-software works, and was one of the first reporters to cover Linux and the free software movement in the mainstream press. His "Living Linux" column runs on the O'Reilly Network.
|Karri89 02/04/05 01:09:04 PM EST|
I'm a newbie to the world of UNIX/Linux and
The other nice thing about the book is how the author
|Glen 02/03/05 01:45:22 PM EST|
This article made me want to rush out and NOT buy his book. He says the book is not trendy/cutesy, but that's just what this ridiculous article is. Food recipes? Chocolate chip cookies? Are you kidding? This is more like an interview from a sappy, lame, local news channel than an IT magazine.
|MERWIN, T 02/02/05 10:42:47 AM EST|
MARTHA JUST TYPE IN LINUX COOKBOOK IN AMAZON
IT WILL COME UP FOR SECOND EDITION
|CompWizKid 01/25/05 02:49:11 PM EST|
Your wanna-be gurus are funny. I run a 98, two XP's, one debian, one slackware, one Gentoo system, and one Mac. first of all, if you want "ease-of-use" for any media based medium(photos, video, grahpical editing), Windows is not indispnesable. Furthermore, if you want to game(ANY GAME) is written for and runs on Windows systems. The statement that society is decaying due to the ease-of-use of windows systems is plain eccentric. Lets come to one generallization; people are lazy,and people are stupid. I would rather an everyday user(non-techie) not use linux due to the fact that it would take more time to support them, which would overcast the efficency it would save. Anyone who is good at computers knows how many times friends and family ask them to "fix their computer." These computers are PCs, so think if they were linux/unix machines.
Drivers are a major problem from system to system. XP comes preloaded with alomost any driver that is possible.
Wireless technologies are becoming more of IT professionals everyday life. The time it takes to configure and startup a wireless arcitechture on a Linux based system far exceeds that of a windows system. When I am showing a demo to a potential customer, should I spend more time configuring or demoing. Furthermore if a client would like to display a concept of some sort and cant navigate, more time is wasted and causes confusion. Lastly I am extreamly mobile person(grad student). The ability to travel from AP to AP seamlessly is important to me. Also, for most new technology laptops, advanced option drivers(integrated wireless)are not available. This introduces additional costs.
|A humble Linux user 01/24/05 09:00:31 AM EST|
Sorry, but I must said that I've been using Linux for the last four years and yes, it ALMOST replaced Windows for all my home uses except for one: it still (well, it was not six months ago) not possible to print family photos in my deskjet with the same quality as the Windows ones. This has been acknowledged by HP support, and is, except kids games, my only reason to still boot Windows.
|colin case 01/23/05 03:15:29 PM EST|
martha, i got mine really cheap on amazon + free shipping...
|martha 01/23/05 02:19:59 PM EST|
It's nice that you linked to Zippy, but did you consider linking to some locations that sell the book.
|Wally Masterson 01/22/05 07:14:39 PM EST|
This is a great book on Linux - I own it and find it indispensable.
|A reader 01/22/05 06:25:45 PM EST|
You've got to be kidding. Linux is good and all, but this guy is on crack or something. First, I like how he says Linux maximizes his efficiency, but how he hasn't used a proprietary OS in so many years. He seems to have such a solid basis for comparison then. Or how about, "Our cities are decaying and dangerous. The implications for the younger generation are terrifying. But with Linux, we could turn all of that around!" WTF? Is this guy for real?
|Sarah 01/22/05 05:55:30 PM EST|
Dunno how long it lasts, but I found a 20% discount link from the publisher...
|Stuart B 01/22/05 08:54:54 AM EST|
I use Linux for almost everything.
|Matt 01/22/05 06:24:26 AM EST|
Ron, have you heard of this thing called the internet? It's real handy. You can even look up books there. Try it, you'll like it!
|bazmudi 01/21/05 07:22:51 AM EST|
ron, i find publisher-page here: $31.95
amazon for best deal: $26.37
|Ron 01/20/05 10:46:14 PM EST|
And the publisher of this book is? And it is available where, when, for how much?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
Oct. 21, 2014 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,246
SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Spansion Inc. (NYSE: CODE), a global leader in embedded systems, today added 96 new products to the Spansion® FM4 Family of flexible microcontrollers (MCUs). Based on the ARM® Cortex®-M4F core, the new MCUs boast a 200 MHz operating frequency and support a diverse set of on-chip peripherals for enhanced human machine interfaces (HMIs) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The rich set of periphera...
Oct. 21, 2014 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 901
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
Oct. 20, 2014 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,044
Predicted by Gartner to add $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020, the Internet of Everything (IoE) is based on the idea that devices, systems and services will connect in simple, transparent ways, enabling seamless interactions among devices across brands and sectors. As this vision unfolds, it is clear that no single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the horizontal aspects of the IoE. The AllSeen Alliance, announced in December 2013, was formed with the goal to advance IoE adoption and innovation in the connected home, healthcare, education, aut...
Oct. 20, 2014 11:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,532
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
Oct. 20, 2014 09:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,077
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
Oct. 20, 2014 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,850
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.
Oct. 20, 2014 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,574
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.
Oct. 20, 2014 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,556
Be Among the First 100 to Attend & Receive a Smart Beacon. The Physical Web is an open web project within the Chrome team at Google. Scott Jenson leads a team that is working to leverage the scalability and openness of the web to talk to smart devices. The Physical Web uses bluetooth low energy beacons to broadcast an URL wirelessly using an open protocol. Nearby devices can find all URLs in the room, rank them and let the user pick one from a list. Each device is, in effect, a gateway to a web page. This unlocks entirely new use cases so devices can offer tiny bits of information or simple i...
Oct. 20, 2014 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,731
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, will address the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. How important are public, private, and hybrid cloud to the enterprise? How does one define Big Data? And how is the IoT tying all this together?
Oct. 20, 2014 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,573
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
Oct. 20, 2014 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,811
TechCrunch reported that "Berlin-based relayr, maker of the WunderBar, an Internet of Things (IoT) hardware dev kit which resembles a chunky chocolate bar, has closed a $2.3 million seed round, from unnamed U.S. and Switzerland-based investors. The startup had previously raised a €250,000 friend and family round, and had been on track to close a €500,000 seed earlier this year — but received a higher funding offer from a different set of investors, which is the $2.3M round it’s reporting."
Oct. 20, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,506
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
Oct. 19, 2014 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,467
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 busines...
Oct. 19, 2014 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,717
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Oct. 19, 2014 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,387
The Internet of Things needs an entirely new security model, or does it? Can we save some old and tested controls for the latest emerging and different technology environments? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, will review hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal privacy options and a new risk balance you might not expect.
Oct. 19, 2014 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,871
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, will discuss the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. The presentation will also discuss how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics to discuss are barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold.
Oct. 19, 2014 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,665
Swiss innovators dizmo Inc. launches its ground-breaking software, which turns any digital surface into an immersive platform. The dizmo platform seamlessly connects digital and physical objects in the home and at the workplace. Dizmo breaks down traditional boundaries between device, operating systems, apps and software, transforming the way users work, play and live. It supports orchestration and collaboration in an unparalleled way enabling any data to instantaneously be accessed on any surface, anywhere and made interactive. Dizmo brings fantasies as seen in Sci-fi movies such as Iro...
Oct. 18, 2014 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,823
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 mach...
Oct. 18, 2014 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,894
This Internet of Nouns trend is still in the early stages and many of our already connected gadgets do provide human benefits over the typical infotainment. Internet of Things or IoT. You know, where everyday objects have software, chips, and sensors to capture data and report back. Household items like refrigerators, toilets and thermostats along with clothing, cars and soon, the entire home will be connected. Many of these devices provide actionable data - or just fun entertainment - so people can make decisions about whatever is being monitored. It can also help save lives.
Oct. 18, 2014 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,634