The Official Ubuntu Book

Most Linux distributions are built to meet a specific purpose; address a specific audience. There are USB-bootable versions, live disks, and versions geared toward scientific research or desktop publishing. Ubuntu Linux is one of the few distributions designed around a philosophy.

You may have heard about Ubuntu’s founder and first developer, Mark Shuttleworth.

Shuttleworth gained worldwide fame on 25 April 2002 as a civilian cosmonaut aboard the Russian Soyuz TM-34 mission, paying approximately US$20 million. Two days later, the Soyuz spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station, where he spent eight days participating in experiments related to AIDS and genome research. On 5 May, he returned to Earth. In order to participate on the flight, Shuttleworth had to undergo one year of training and preparation, including seven months spent in Star City, Moscow. [Source: Wikipedia] In the 1990s, Shuttleworth was a developer for Debian Linux. In 2004, he released Ubuntu Linux.

The Ubuntu Web site has this to say about its guiding philosophy:

“The Ubuntu community is built on the ideas enshrined in the Ubuntu Philosophy: that software should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local language and despite any disabilities, and that people should have the freedom to customise and alter their software in whatever way they see fit.”

The book’s forward and first chapter both discuss this philosophical distribution. Details on installing and configuring Ubuntu begin in chapter 2. The Ubuntu developers have done an outstanding job at making Ubuntu as easy to install as any other distribution, despite its Debian ancestry.

Chapter 3 covers most all the activities the average desktop computer user might need to do in the course of a day. It discusses finding and using the installed applications (adding new ones is covered in Chapter 4), understanding the file system, the various parts of the desktop and how to get around, adjusting the look and feel of Ubuntu and working with multimedia.

The next chapter deals with managing your system, keeping it updated and configured. It details working with devices like cameras and printers and ends with a look at the Terminal.

Using Ubuntu in a server configuration is covered from start to finish in chapter 5. You can even set up RAID under Ubuntu.

Chapter 6 covers troubleshooting while chapter 7 introduces you to Kubuntu, the KDE window manager based version of Ubuntu, which uses the Gnome manager by default. If you prefer KDE and decide to install Kubuntu, this book is still applicable.

Chapters 8 and 9 finish the book by looking at various participants in the Ubuntu community and other Ubuntu related projects.

Ubuntu has experienced a huge surge of enthusiastic users. In a short space of time its popularity has begun to rival Fedora and Mandriva. There are various theories as to why this is happening. Some credit the philosophical roots of the OS, some say it’s due to the pleasing brown default color scheme. I doubt it’s because of its interface. Gnome is a no-frills desktop, but many distributions offer Gnome. I say it has something to do with the fact that the Ubuntu community is serious about their mission to make and maintain an operating system that offers freedom of use and low cost to the user.

Ubuntu offers a unique distribution method. Anyone can request a copy of the OS on disk here free of charge, including shipping.

Another unique thing: Once you’ve installed Ubuntu to your hard drive using the included DVD, you’ll find a full copy of the book in your home directory. This means you can give the book and disk to a friend and still have the Official Ubuntu Book available for reference any time you need it.

It seems Ubuntu is really serious about that philosophy.

The Official Ubuntu Book
Benjamin Hill and Jono Bacon et. al.
Canonical, Ltd. Pearson Education, Inc. 2007
ISBN 0-13-243594-2
412 pgs. w/DVD-ROM
$34.99 USA/$43.99 CAN

[tags]Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Canonical, Pearson Education[/tags]